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Morning Brief: Apple Announces Plans for Mountain of Cash

by Jonathan Masters
March 19, 2012

An Apple store employee checks cash for counterfeit bills after a customer purchased a pair of Apple iPad 2 tablets (Lucas Jackson/Courtesy Reuters). An Apple store employee checks cash for counterfeit bills after a customer purchased a pair of Apple iPad 2 tablets (Lucas Jackson/Courtesy Reuters).

This morning Apple announced the company would pay a dividend to shareholders and buy back up to $10 billion in stock, revealing the plan for its $97.6 billion cash hoard (WSJ). As iPads and iPhones flew off shelves, Apple recorded staggering profits but has not paid a dividend since 1995. While many growing firms retain earnings to fuel expansion, the size of Apple’s earnings and cash are unprecedented; Apple’s cash accounts grew by almost $38 billion in 2011 alone. U.S. tax policy is a partial explanation for why Apple has resisted distributing this cash to shareholders. Roughly two-thirds of the $97.6 billion is held by foreign subsidiaries (NYT), and Apple would likely face tax rates above 30 percent to repatriate those earnings to the United States for distribution as dividends.

Corporate regulation and taxation. Read more from top economists and business experts on solutions for addressing corporate tax reform.

Innovation

Concerns about Outsourcing R&D are Premature

The Harvard Business Review reports that concerns about U.S. outsourcing of R&D are premature. The United States remains a research powerhouse and a net exporter of R&D related services. The country also attracts R&D investment from foreign multinationals at a higher rate than U.S. firms outsource R&D. Suggested steps to improve R&D in the United States include increasing both public and private investment, attracting and training skilled researchers, and balancing public research dollars between health sciences and engineering/physical sciences.

Innovation. Read more on how the U.S. capacity to innovate could play a chief role in economic growth.

Education and Human Capital

Most Graduation Rates Improve, but Rates across Southwest Decline

From 2001 to 2009, the U.S. high school graduation rate (AP) improved by 3.5 percentage points, reaching 75 percent (AP). Forty states raised graduation rates, with strong gains in New York and the southeast, but declines across the southwest. Successful school districts pursued greater outreach to at-risk students by faculty and intervention specialists. For students who have left, schools created programs to ease reentry and to recover credits, including: e-learning, evening classes, and family centers for teens who are parents or pregnant. These new programs as well as reorganizations decreased estimated “drop-out factories” from more than 2,000 to approximately 1,550.

Education and human capital. Read more from experts discussing ways to improve U.S. education and immigration.

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