This article suggests that Microsoft and other companies that have recently tapped the debt markets will just sit on the money, which is hardly an encouraging sign for new capital investment, research and development, or even deal making.
That means that corporate treasurers don't have a lot of faith in prognostications of an economic recovery this year, or anything other than an anemic one.
There's a paradox here, of course. A robust recovery requires new business investment, especially with the consumer in such bad shape. But unless the consumer's health improves, companies won't spend.
The solution, of course, is job growth. Yes, in a normal recession, employment is a lagging indicator. But this one is anything but normal, as David Rosenberg pointed out on CNBC this morning.
For hiring to improve, however, companies must see new investment opportunities. And so the discussion goes around again full circle.
I, for one, don't see an easy way out of this macroeconomic trap. No wonder there are increasing calls for more stimulus spending from Washington.