Visualizing $1 Trillion as an endless field of bales of C-notes


Farhad sez, "This guy used Google Sketchup to show what $1 trillion actually looks like. It's big!"

Those are bales of $100 bills, incidentally.

What does one TRILLION dollars look like? (Thanks, Farhad!)

33

  1. What’s he doing just standing there? Grab as much as you can, little man, and run like the wind!

  2. still doesnt do it justice. heres one for you. if we paid 1000 dollars per second, it would take us almost 32 years to pay off 1 trillion. and thats not even assuming interest!

  3. “What’s he doing just standing there? Grab as much as you can, little man, and run like the wind!”

    Like anyone accepts hundred-dollar bills anymore.

  4. I can’t help thinking that they wouldn’t miss just _one_ of those bales.

    Of course, I’d need to borrow a fork-lift …

  5. I can’t help thinking that they wouldn’t miss just _one_ of those bales.

    They certainly “settled during shipment” to Wall Street.

  6. awesome. lets put that money in a locked bunker with no food or water, throw in all the greediest people in the world, and lock the door.

    they can have it, we can find something better.

  7. Good lord you guys are funny, I’ve tears rolling down my face. But is anyone else left with a growing Sisyphean sense of anxiety and dread?

    I wish he would of used something softer, bright, and peppy to symbolize the money. Like, I don’t know, Peeps maybe? “Tis the season.
    Oh, I see it I’m visualizing, look they’re walking around peeping with pink and blue crystal sugar ribbons tied about their necks. So cute, so sweet.

    Oh wait! What’s this? Big hands with chubby fingers that have dirt under their nails, are reaching down, and oh god…dear god no! Oh, oh….the humanity!!!!!

    I’m just waiting for the national debt to reach a “mole”. There, that sounds better, and yet.

  8. I love how the cost of making and sharing this diagram is still $0.00 no matter how big the problem.

  9. #7 – a lot of people in Iraq had that same idea. There’s something like 10-30 billion dollars IN CASH unaccounted for in Iraq. US $ were literally flown in by the palate full hot from the US Treasury in cargo planes.

  10. #1 – Yes, I was thinking that too. Since it was made in SketchUp, it should be easy to make a KMZ file placing the pile somewhere in the real world… Make it a scavenger hunt!

  11. For some reason, this picture reminds of the old video game ‘Intelligent Cube’.

    You know, the game where you really didn’t have a chance and died a lot?

  12. subhan is correct. If I remember right they loaded up trucks to the back of the Federal Reserve and put pallets of money on them, then shipped them out to Iraq.

    The reason they did this was because the neocons all believed in Libertarian nonsense and thought the Iraq economy would bloom all by itself, right after they showered our troops with rainbows and unicorns.

  13. This is stupid. I think I recall Jon Stewart making fun of congressmen repeatedly making stupid “if we stacked $100 bills it would reach into space!” type analogies. Analogies are supposed to make things easier to understand, but neither a stack of bills into space nor a sketchup model of bales of bills are any less abstract to me than just $1T as a number.

    There *are* effective abstractions, though.

    1. There are about 300M people in the U.S., so with $1T you could mail everyone a check for $3000 or so.

    2. There are 12M unemployed people, so with $1T you could offer every unemployed person a $40k/year job. (that calculation is optimistic. there’s really more than $12M and that assumes no overhead, but you get the idea.)

    3. Solar panels are about $5/W. $1T can buy about 200GW worth of solar panels, which (on a sunny day in the southwest) is equivalent to 200 nuclear power plants. (again, not counting overhead.)

    If you want to sketchup something, sketchup the solar panels in a desert. Stacks of money just sit there…

  14. Yup, a trillion dollars looks like a lot of money when you compare it to a single person.

    That’s why, next time “you hear someone toss around the phrase ‘trillion dollars'” (as the page explains), imagine it in terms of the entire freeking country.

    If this image had 300 million people standing around the money for “scale,” we might understand that these are the kinds of sums it takes to run the country with the highest GDP in the world.

  15. Yeah, but how many Italian Lira is that?

    Or better, how many potatoes can I buy with that? In the wake of WW2 it took a wheelbarrow full of Lira to buy a single potato.

  16. If this image had 300 million people standing around the money for “scale,” we might understand that these are the kinds of sums it takes to run the country with the highest GDP in the world.

    Extremely good point.

  17. back with a little more perspective. with 2% interest, if we were to pay $1000 per second, it would take almost 50 years to pay off all that money. with 3% it comes out to 93.7 years! woohoo!

  18. just think, they’d be a lot more careful with money if they had to physically move it around in transactions… at the moment, it’s just numbers on a screen… perhaps they should insist that all these big deals actually physically happen by schlepping money from one bank to the other and they had to have proper authority to move it as well such as a hand signed document…

    there’d be plenty of jobs then for the people who move it, guard it and count it in and out… maybe, they’d start behaving like proper bankers, rather than commission crazed salespeople…

  19. “If this image had 300 million people standing around the money for “scale,” we might understand that these are the kinds of sums it takes to run the country with the highest GDP in the world.”

    I don’t think that, right now, this is aimed at the cost of _running_ the country. It’s aimed at the cost of _bailing out_ greedy fools at the expense of the majority who weren’t greedy fools.

  20. You know, Noen, I only wish there were as many libertarians as you think there are. I know, we are the evul o’ the earth, with our bizarre ideas about how free markets work and how economic freedom tends to increase personal freedom.

    The money sent to Iraq by the neocons (who might consider themselves libs, but I and the libs I know certainly don’t) was bribe money, for the most part, bribes being a great way to get people (such as politicians) to do what you want, at least for a while. Not that I expect you to care, or agree. No, you will continue bleating that libertarians are deluded idiots, out of step with the socially progressive economic reality of the world.

    I am sincerely glad that I do not know you personally, and hope that I never do.

  21. Money attracts money. If you’d put that much of the stuff in one place, it would contract into one big ball in the centre of the area, and neither man nor horse could extract a single bill from it.

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