Steve JobsIt’s well known that Apple is sitting on an incredibly huge war chest of funds, currently believed to be valued at $76.1 billion.  What no one knew was that it means the company has more cash than the United States government right now which is believed to only have operating funds of $73.7 billion.  Yes, that means that Apple could be considered its own country at this point.

Even before the revelation that Apple CEO Steve Jobs could take the U.S. government out for dinner and say, “Don’t worry, I got the check,” Fox News was pondering what the well known company could do with this insane pile of cash it’s sitting on.  Apple isn’t know for large accusations, preferring to keep them modest and small.  Mr. Jobs has said that he wants to “keep our powder dry” for “very strategic opportunities,” whatever those may be. As Roger Kay, president of Endpoint Technologies Associates said to Fox, “I don’t know what they are planning to buy other than a European country.”

Our own Jon Rettinger piped into the conversation with Fox suggesting that Apple could use it to buy up patents as it did with Nortel, or possibly placing huge orders with suppliers that secure them lower prices and hinder the competition from getting the necessary parts to build their own competitive devices.  “It’s a bully move but its well within Apple’s rights to do so,” Rettinger told Fox. “It can make Apple the winner by default.”

This circles back to a story we heard this past April about how Apple dispatched executives to Japan in the wake of the Japan Earthquake-Tsunami with briefcases literally bursting with cash to secure components that experts felt would be in short supply following the disaster.  There was a perfect example of why the company sits on huge piles of cash, although it is still arguable if it really needs one that is valued at $76.1 billion and showing no signs of stopping its growth.

I can’t say as I blame Jobs and company as I have also fallen victim at times in my life to, “I have X amount of dollars on hand, and I never want to go below Y.”  Then I get some more on hand, and the number that Y represents grows some more.  It’s nice to have that cushion and feel secure, but I also don’t have shareholders to answer to, nor do I have more money on hand than one of the largest economies in the world.

What do you think Apple should do with its $76.1 billion war chest?