XKCD's megachart on money

The latest XKCD is a monster infographic on money, called "MONEY: A chart with almost all of it, where it is, and what it can do." It's a fascinating, astounding piece of work, including everything from the average cost of fish ownership to a list of the world's billionaires to a worker/CEO pay comparison to a breakdown of US tax-deductions to American government spending to the cost of major recent disasters and much, much more.



  1. I’ve watched him post a lot of insanely detailed charts over the years, each one seemingly more complex than the last… I don’t know how he’s going to top this one. Good freaking lord that’s crazy.

  2. Can we get a BoingBoing pool going on what year XKCD’s Mr. Munroe gets like, a Nobel? Or what year they ratify a Nobel category appropriate for him?

  3. I have a relatively new Macbook Pro laptop (purchased early this year) and I was unable to load this epic chart. Any browser recommendations?

    1. I experienced slow loading and JaveScript errors in Safari 5.1.1 but no problems in Firefox 8 (on OS X 10.6).

    2. That’s highly unlikely considering my 2 year old Droid smartphone can handle it and it’s only got 256MB of RAM. 

    3. Likely not the fault of your computer but the spike in page views for this particular strip, jamming up the xkcd server.

  4. I’d love to see a giant paper version of this.  My friend is an Econ teacher, and she’d lose her mind.  Could you imagine having that on the wall of your classroom?  Epic.

  5. The most amazing fact I saw was that the 2009 worldwide derivatives market is 1/6 the total human output for all of history. I understand the need for managing risk (which is one function of derivatives), but the gambling aspect of it coupled with this fact just astounds me…

  6. Has anyone found a way of saving it as a plain image and browsing it that way? I’m finding the viewer to be quite flaky to use, and would much rather have this offline anyhow.

    1. Joshua, there is no single image file; the whole thing is composed of (many many) small PNG tiles that the viewer code knits together and enlarges. You can snag them all with the “developer” tools of your fave browser and then knit ’em together yourself, or cough up the $15 for a 24″x36″ print ($150 for the mega-print, itself delivered as four tiles). Had the same thought myself — HP DesignJet 500 at the ready! — but, you know…it would p’bly be taking $$ away from the cancer fund :-(

  7. There’s a  36″ x 24′ poster version available in the xkcd store (store.xkcd.com), as well as a mega-poster version – four 36 x 24 tiles to make a 6 ft. mural.  The mighty mighty Munroe does it again.

  8. JFC I am sort of losing my mind trying to parse this.  Things like this make me go– “yeah, proof that sometimes the classic, the standard– is the flagship for a reason.”  Bravo, xkcd, once again.

  9. Wow.

    Though… I really wouldn’t want to buy this until he at least got himself a proofreader. SO many really obvious errors.
    It’s a crying shame, because so much work obviously went into this.

  10. OK, I’ll excuse him for being late with this. It’s an epic.

    Still, it could use some proofreading. I expect it’ll be better tomorrow.

  11. I just spent 20 minutes reading this whole thing – simply amazing – I’d love to see someone take this and redesign it further so it’s that much more readable to the average Joe. Come on InformationisBeautiful – I’m talking to you – enough with your paying gigs.

  12. Instead of the next Republican presidential debate, the candidates should be quizzed about the contents of this infographic.  Bonus points would be awarded if the candidate can suggest a governmental policy directly related to the cited statistic.

  13. Amazing chart. It only lacks one thing: A list of the worth of the private interests who have the hammerlock on the issuing of our currency and credit. Their combined worth is magnitudes greater than Brin, Page, Gates, etc.

  14. One of the standout conclusions I read on the chart is how straight-forward and possible it would be to give $250,000 to every single American if we split up the pie evenly.  

    1. Yeah – but doing that would raise inflation. Things are supply and demand. If we could all afford a $100K Mercedes, then the price of that car would increase proportionately.

      1. No. Someone somewhere has convinced people that increased circulation=printing more money when these are completely different things. One does not actually affect the overall supply of wealth, while the other changes the value of currency- something connected to but distinct from wealth.

        Yes, a  Benz would cost more initially, but only until economies of scale compensated for it. It would also depend on whether or not demand actually increases. There is no rule that says the rise in value would be proportionate. 

        Would there be some inflation in this hypothetical? Sure. Would it skyrocket to Zimbabwean heights? No. Would it magically render the wealth those dollars represent (remember, we ain’t printing money) down to diddly-squat? No.

        1. Bleh – saw this late so I am sure no one will read this….

          But you can bet on inflation hitting many items. How many people can afford a $100K now? A small fraction compared to literally EVERYONE if  each person had $250K. This goes for other things like large TVs, all the PS3 games you can want, fur coats, shiny stones, etc etc. Would the number of people able to afford soup increase? No, so staple items would probably remain relatively consistent. But the demand for quality products would definitely increase.  Then again, the number of people able to afford $10 Million yachts would evaporate, so maybe they would go down in  price.

          1. Disqus email notifications are your friend in this case. :)

            It’s kind of crass to assume the first things people would spend that money on is luxury items. Okay, so maybe I don’t have a problem with being crass- I’m kind of crass a lot of the time. But in this case, I doubt the darker view of human nature is necessarily the more accurate one. The first thing I would do with that sum is buy necessities. It’s not everyone’s objective to immediately dwindle down all their money. Some certainly will- but how, when, on what? The incredible diversity of the items that money would be spent on necessarily limits the inflationary effects. Also, since this is fantasy hypothetical- we can play with it, and assume that packaged with the funds are some stern admonitions about use of such funds. Just as fears of “TERRORISM!” and “TEHGAYSEX!” are successfully drilled into people’s heads, I’m sure sufficient interest could be mustered to create fear about going to spend that money all in one place. Will it completely eliminate all inflationary pressures and potentially irresponsible spending? No, but it could round off some rougher edges.

            Also, I encourage you to challenge your ideas about inflation. Both deflation and inflation can be either good or bad, depending on the extent and circumstances. Think about it, a small inflation on luxury items is really not so bad. Inflation also has a way of helping people reduce debt. With personal and private debt in this country being such a problem this is also not so bad. Although credit companies would think it’s terrible and don’t care how much it’s going to hurt everybody to lobby government to maintain policies that are anti-inflationary to a truly insane degree.

  15. Please interview him!

    “At the suggestion of reader Gary McDougall, I added a line for Luke’s hand (which separates from him on Cloud City), but did not include the Extended Universe canon story of Thrawn’s recovery of the hand and subsequent cloning of Luke. Angry letters about this decision should be directed to spam@xkcd.com.

  16. I make a motion that every high school class take a week to understand this graphic.

    Kids could write papers on it, make their own related graphics, etc.  So much debate is nonsensical because people don’t get this stuff.

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