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Most signs point to a good year for investing, as the United States is turning the corner on vaccinations, the federal government is supporting pandemic recovery, and emerging markets present reasonably attractive opportunities. This forecast has several implications for corporate treasurers. One is that it’s time to start taking some risks again.

Certainly, 2020 was an enormously challenging year for many U.S. businesses, but it wasn’t quite as bad as first expected. The Federal Reserve came to the rescue of financial markets in March 2020, helping corporate treasurers and CFOs raise a lot of cash as they drew on their corporate revolvers, issued commercial paper, and raised debt financing through record corporate bond issuance. Notwithstanding bankruptcies in some sectors, the overall rate of business survival was higher than we feared early last year.

The corporates that survived the first six months of the pandemic were understandably risk-averse, so they essentially sat on much of the funding they raised. While this was the right thing to do at the time, it has become important to start putting that cash back to work in the business via research, capital expenditures (capex), and innovation.

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