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Working Capital Management

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Why Firms Hold Cash

The finance profession recognizes the three primary reasons offered by economist John Maynard Keynes to explain why firms hold cash. The three reasons are for the purpose of speculation, for the purpose of precaution, and for the purpose of making transactions. All three of these reasons stem from the need for companies to possess liquidity.

Speculation

Economist Keynes described this reason for holding cash as creating the ability for a firm to take advantage of special opportunities that if acted upon quickly will favor the firm. An example of this would be purchasing extra inventory at a discount that is greater than the carrying costs of holding the inventory.

Precaution

Holding cash as a precaution serves as an emergency fund for a firm. If expected cash inflows are not received as expected cash held on a precautionary basis could be used to satisfy short-term obligations that the cash inflow may have been bench marked for.

Transaction

Firms are in existence to create products or provide services. The providing of services and creating of products results in the need for cash inflows and outflows. Firms hold cash in order to satisfy the cash inflow and cash outflow needs that they have.

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