America's largest companies hold $994 billion in cash

The 500 largest non-financial companies in the U.S. hold $994 billion in cash and short-term investments, up about 8 percent from last year, according to an exclusive study conducted byThe Wall Street Journal. Some of the largest tech companies like Google (GOOG) and Apple (AAPL) have tens of billions on their balance sheets.

There is nothing new about corporations holding high cash balances during a recession, since companies want to maintain a buffer against falling sales and earnings losses. But it raises the question of what will happen to the cash as the economy recovers.