The huge amount of cash sitting on corporate balance sheets hasfueled debate since the credit crisis. The extent of companies'cash holdings has been cited as proof that companies weren't doingenough to get the economy going, that they were handicapped byexcessive regulation or that they preferred to hoard money overseasrather than pay taxes to repatriate the it. But last week, thelatest quarterly data from the Federal Reserve suggested thatnoteworthy build-up in companies' cash holdings might not haveoccurred.

According to the Fed's flow of funds data, U.S. nonfinancialcorporations had $1.74 trillion in cash at the end of the firstquarter, up from $1.72 trillion at the end of 2011. But thatyear-end total was revised down from the $2.2 trillion the Fedreported originally—a change of $497 trillion.

The Fed also slashed the amount of cash companies have inchecking deposits, revising its total for the end of 2011 to $379.8billion, down from $672 billion, a change of $292.2 billion. In thefirst quarter, companies' cash in checking deposits was almostunchanged from that revised year-end figure, at $379 billion.

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Susan Kelly

Susan Kelly is a business journalist who has written for Treasury & Risk, FierceCFO, Global Finance, Financial Week, Bridge News and The Bond Buyer.