A Billion, How Much Did You Say?
It seems to me that the number ‘billion’ is somewhat overworked during these days of financial services sector frauds and bailouts. Billion, bili-yon, it rolls off the tongue quickly doesn't it? in two slippery syllables that belie its true enormity. It’s perhaps time to put its number value into perspective.
Before I do that, just ponder for a moment about where all the billions of dollars sloshing around in the system came from. Some represent the value of the real wealth created by the production of goods, but most of it is a creation of the banks, it doesn’t actually exist, but as long as it’s never audited it’s not possible to ascertain just how much money the banks have ‘printed’ in the form of 'plastic' and 'e-money'.
Now that’s not to say that the banks actually ‘print’ money but their mechanisms for introducing money that does not exist into the system over and above that which is issued in actual notes is devious, clever and difficult to quantify.
At this stage I will state for the record that like every other company in the financial services sector the amount of real wealth any bank inputs into any society’s economy is $zero, an amount perhaps way more significant than the recently overworked $billion.
So let’s have a more detailed look at the innocent and underappreciated billion. Lets imagine that we draw a graph that has a bar on it to represent your whole lifetime, and let’s be generous and imagine you are going to live for a 100 years. If the bar on the graph representing 100 years is just 1mm long (that’s about the width of this bold character I), then to compare that to one billion years the chart paper would have to be 10 Kilometers long. That’s how big a billion is.
The 2009 USA ‘bailout’ package was $780,000,000,000, in words that’s a whopping seven hundred and eighty billion dollars or to put it another way, if you were to bag it up with one million dollars in each sack you would have seven hundred and eighty thousand sacks. That’s a very, very big pile of sacks.
There are roughly 109,000,000 families in the USA [circa 2009], that means that just to cover the cost of the bailout each family in the USA is going to have to pay to the Government, at some time or other, $7,155.96. That's over and above all the other taxes every family has to pay.
From Wikipedia on Fiat Currency:
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