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IN AUGUSTA

WEDNESDAY: Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce Drugs Don't Work seminar; 3-5 p.m.; Augusta Technical College; free for member companies, $25 for chamber members, $35 for nonmembers; (706) 821-1318

THURSDAY: Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce post-session legislative breakfast, Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens will speak; 7:30 a.m.; Augusta Marriott at the Convention Center, 2 10th St.; free for members, $25 for nonmembers; (706) 821-1318

THURSDAY: Georgia Association of Accountants and Tax Professionals meeting on health savings accounts; 8 a.m.; Augusta Metro Federal Credit Union, 205 Davis Road, Augusta; $5 meal cost; (706) 650-1700

IN WASHINGTON

TUESDAY: Labor Department releases job openings and labor turnover survey for April, 10 a.m.; Federal Reserve releases consumer credit data for April, 3 p.m.; Senate Finance Committee hearing on deficit reduction

WEDNESDAY: Federal Reserve releases Beige Book, 2 p.m.

THURSDAY: Labor Department releases weekly jobless claims, 8:30 a.m.; Commerce Department releases international trade for April, 8:30 a.m.; Commerce Department releases wholesale trade inventories for April, 10 a.m.; Freddie Mac releases weekly mortgage rates, 10 a.m.

FRIDAY: Treasury releases federal budget for May, 2 p.m.

ON WALL STREET

Most companies are hoarding cash after two-plus years of cost-cutting. The members of the benchmark Standard & Poor's 500 index are sitting on a record $960 billion in cash on their balance sheets.

All told, companies now have more than 10 percent more cash than the previous peak in 2004. Though the days of mass layoffs might be largely over, few companies are expanding.

But there are companies bold enough to invest for the next boom. Caterpillar Inc., Union Pacific Corp., and Google Inc. have each announced major plans to hire new workers or build new factories.

Should investors make a bet on a company that's expanding when others are still playing defense?

A handful of academics, analysts and fund managers say yes. They say companies that are hoarding cash will be left behind when the economy hits its next major growth stage because they won't have the people or projects in place to cash in on new business opportunities.

Martin S. Roth, a professor at the Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, and Richard Ettenson, a professor at Thunderbird School of Global Management, looked at how companies in emerging markets respond to volatile business climates.

Their takeaway: Thriving means taking risks coming out of recessions. They found companies that invested in high service or other strategies, such as lowering their profit margins to gain market share, thrived when the broad economy rebounded after past recessions. Their competitors, including American multinational companies, were not as prepared for the recovery.



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