Has Bernanke Put American Businesses Back On Top?

At the end of the day, it looks like Chairman Ben Bernanke’s bazooka brigade is getting the job done. For the first time in eight years, all five of the biggest companies in the world are American companies.

Data compiled by Bloomberg show that American companies retook a dominant position on the chart of biggest companies after PetroChina (NYSE:PTR) slipped to a market cap of $225.17 billion, currently just behind Chevron (NYSE:CVX) at $226.81 billion.

Company Market Cap ($) in billions Year-to-Date Gain 5-Year Gain
Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM) 394.4 -1.42% -5.42%
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) 372.66 -28.87% +130.09%
Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) 263.48 +10.59% +47.02%
Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE:BRKA) 260.18 +13.07% +24.42%
Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) 256.42 +13.07% +35.80%

Citigroup (NYSE:C) fell off the list after the 2008 financial crisis, when its stock crashed from over $500 per share to less than $50, a price level that it has failed to break since.

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It would be a disservice to American industry to rob these companies of credit for their own achievement — each has competently navigated a turbulent post-crisis era — but the macro conditions have not all been negative. Highly accommodating monetary policy, championed by Bernanke’s Federal Reserve, has kept gas pouring into the leaky economic engine that drives all growth.

Without some $2.3 trillion in stimulus, the consumer spending that makes up the bread and butter of the economy would have suffered, eroding revenues and limiting growth…

“An aggressive policy is working,” Henk Potts of Barclays Wealth told Bloomberg. “The U.S. consumer is in great shape. That trend continues to be very supportive of economic growth.”

Forecasts for GDP growth in the U.S. are varied, but have pretty consistently been revised upward over the past few months. Forecasts for low to mid 2 percent growth in 2013 have come up as high as 3 percent, foreshadowed by equity gains in electronics makers and media companies.

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That said, the rapid growth that many mega-cap companies have enjoyed in the first quarter of 2013 may be slowing down, or even gearing up for a contraction. The Federal Reserve is openly looking at strategies to wind down its asset-purchasing program, and will one day have to reduce the size of its balance sheet. Unconventional monetary policy can’t last forever. As the economy heals, the funds rate is bound to edge up.

However, long-term gains will come with the recovery of the global economy. Trading partners such as Japan are just beginning their own tremendous monetary easing efforts, and the EU is on track to return to growth by the middle of the decade.

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