For Samsung Electronics, the answer was 180-trillion won ($161bn). For Apple, it was $350bn. The question was: how much are you going to contribute to your home economy? But for the smartphone giants’ finance teams, it might just as well have been — what’s the biggest number you can rustle up to impress politicians? On Wednesday, Samsung announced with fanfare its plan to spend that 180-trillion won over the next three years, almost three-quarters of it in South Korea. Apple said in January it will "contribute" $350bn to the US economy over the next five years. The Samsung announcement came a few days after Lee Jae-yong, the vice-chair and de facto CEO, met with finance minister Kim Dong-yeon at a chip factory, Bloomberg News reported. It’s being described as "lending support" to President Moon Jae-in’s efforts to shore up a slowing economy. For both companies, however, these impressive sounding numbers are somewhat routine. Samsung had capital expenditures of 43-trillion won last y...

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