One of the biggest talking points in favor of the Trump tax cuts of late 2017 was that they would unleash a “wave” of cash stored up in the offshore subsidiaries of U.S. companies that would return to the U.S. to support investment in plant, equipment and new jobs.
I warned at the time that this story was a myth and should not be counted as a factor in favoring the tax bill. According to this article, my analysis was correct and there is no wave of any significance.
The total of offshore cash held by foreign subsidiaries of U.S. corporations is about $3 trillion, much of that from Apple alone. In the face of Trump administration propaganda, mostly from Gary Cohn, I made the point that the money was already invested in U.S. markets so it could not “come home,” because it was already here.
I also made the point that any U.S. corporation that wanted to invest in plant and equipment over the past 10 years could have done so with a cheap loan by pledging the offshore cash as collateral. The reason they didn’t invest was not because of taxes; it was because of lack of opportunities to profit.
Now we learn that only $465 billion has been repatriated while $2.5 trillion remains offshore waiting for better opportunities. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s a good lesson in not taking Washington, D.C., propaganda at face value.
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