Imagining a trillion dollars  

Posted by Denis Haack in

If you are like me you’ve found that media reports concerning the economic crisis include dollar amounts that stagger the imagination. So, to get a better handle on what the figures mean, I surfed the Internet for some help. Here are two attempts at helping us grasp what $1 trillion dollars looks like.


Visualization #1:

“If you had gone into business on the day Jesus was born, and your business lost a million dollars a day, day in and day out, 365 days a year, it would have taken you until October 2737 to lose a trillion dollars, or a little over two thousand seven hundred years.”



Visualization #2:

In order to make (a little more) sense of a trillion dollars, begin imagining a hundred dollar bill:


Now, imagine a bundle of one hundred $100 bills, which would total $10,000 and be about one half inch think:


Next imagine standing next to a pile of one hundred packets of $10,000, which would total $1 million dollars (it would fit in a grocery sack):


Now imagine increasing the number of packets until you have a total of $100 million dollars, which would fit on a wooden pallet:


Then imagine standing next to the number of pallets required to contain $1 billion dollars in the same packets of one hundred $100 bills:


And finally, this is what you would look like standing next to $1 trillion dollars (that’s a $1 followed by twelve zeros)—note the pallets are now double stacked with the same bundles of $100 bills:




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