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Report: 18 firms hold a third of US wealth

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major corporations in USIncome inequality is a hot political topic and a report showing that a small number of U.S. companies hold most of the wealth could stir up more talk about ways to change tax policy.

The majority of corporate cash is amassed in the coffers of 18 U.S. firms — they held 36 percent of all wealth last year, a jump from 27 percent in 2009 with the gap expected to widen further, according to a report from Standard & Poor’s, a New York-based credit rater.

That means that out of a record $1.53 trillion in cash and short-term investments held by U.S. corporations the wealthiest 18 held about $535 billion.

“In our view, current U.S. corporate tax policy and accommodating credit market conditions have been primarily responsible for this growing wealth gap,” the report said.

Furthermore, the wealthiest top 20 percent held 89 percent of total cash, leaving only 11 percent for the bottom 80 percent of firms.

The top 1 percent are mostly investment-grade businesses — Microsoft, Google, Cisco, Apple, Oracle, Ford, Coca-Cola and Boeing — and are concentrated in technology and healthcare industries.

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