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Big Companies Hoarding Record Amounts Of Cash - Is It At The Expense Of The Unemployed?

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By one prominent measure, major companies had extraordinary success weathering the recession: Industrial companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 index, a list that includes such giants as 3M Co., Coca-Cola Co. and United Technologies Corp., ended last year with a record $832 billion in cash and short-term securities on their books, up 27% from a year earlier.

"The big question is what do they do with it," said Susan Sterne, an economist who heads Economic Analysis Associates in Greenwich, Conn.

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