So far we've told you about high unemployment, and rising gas prices, and polls showing most Americans still feel like we're in a recession.But that's Main Street. As usual, Wall Street tells a different story. At this point in the earnings season, profits for the three-quarters of companies in the S&P 500 that have reported are up 17%. That's the sixth quarter in a row of increased earnings.
Revenue is also skyrocketing - up 10%- the first double-digit increase in five years. And approximately 70% of these businesses beat forecaster's expectations for their earnings - almost all of the health-care industry did. And to top it all off, these companies are sitting on a record $940 billion in cash.So you know what companies are doing with these record profits? Not hiring! Or even boosting wages. As we told you, jobless claims rose 43,000 last week to an eight-month high at 474,000.And that's ahead of tomorrow's big unemployment report - which is expected to keep the rate flat at 8.8%, and wages for private sector workers rose less than a half a percent in the first quarter.But as frustration grows over the strong corporate bottom line not trickling down to workers - the American taxpayer does have something to be optimistic about. Some of the nation's biggest bailout recipients are finally starting to turn a corner.For the first time in a year, government-controlled Freddie Mac is not asking the federal government for more money. Freddie alone has received $13 billion over the past four quarters. They reported earning $676 million last quarter - the first time the bailed-out mortgage giant has posted a quarterly gain in nearly two years.The government estimates the bailouts of Freddie and its sister company Fannie Mae will cost taxpayers as much as $259 billion- so this break couldn't come at a better time. Also, following a profitable quarter by Chrysler, General Motors is also beating expectations with its revenue. Driven by a recovering U.S. market and strong sales in Asia, GM tripled its profits.
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Maybe now they can start repaying the $26 billion they still owe us. This as GM and Fannie Mae are both making Fortune 500's top ten.Bank of America coming in at number nine - also thanks in large part to the taxpayer dime. And remember those controversial tax breaks for oil companies President Obama is trying to get rid of?They may be the reason for Exxon Mobil and Chevron coming in at number two and three. Love 'em or hate 'em, Wal-Mart comes in at number one again - but at least they did it on their own.I love the fact that these companies are doing so well, but it is a little hard to celebrate their success - when 13.5 million Americans are out of work.Now's as good a time as any for these companies to use that $940 billion in cash for the greater good.