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What Eight Hundred Billion Dollars Looks Like

Different organizations have put forth different suggestions for the 2008 word-of-the-year, including change, bailout, overshare, and hypermiling.

My suggestion for 2008 word-of-the-year?

Billion.

Once unfathomably large, we now toss around billion with conversational ease. Billion is in the news a lot more, too.

million-billion

My kids were listening to the proposed stimulus package being discussed on the radio.

They asked me what $800B looked like.

Hmm.

The familar buck.

1

One hundred dollars.

100

Ten thousand dollars.

10 000

One million dollars, below.

1 000 000

This is one hundred million dollars.

100 000 000

Ten billion dollars here.

10 000 000 000

One hundred billion dollars. Each tiny pink box is a hundred mil.

100 000 000 000

And eight of those. Here’s eight hundred billion dollars.

800 000 000 000

I think I got that right. Hard not to drop a zero.

Every $100B expenditure works out to $330 dollars per citizen — each man, woman, child, and baby. So my pro-rata portion of the proposed $800b stimulus plan is about $2,650.

Yours, too.

Me, wife, and two kids: $10,600.

$800B is the stimulus plan. I’m not counting the $700B TARP — another $9300 obligation for my family — because there’s a chance the Treasury gets the money back, or even turns profit on it. Also not counting the Detroit bailout.

My head spins.

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  • Alan Rimm-Kaufman
    Alan Rimm-Kaufman founded the Rimm-Kaufman Group...
  • Comments
    4 Responses to “What Eight Hundred Billion Dollars Looks Like”
    1. Heard an interesting discussion on “wrapping your head around huge numbers” this morning on NPR.

      The takeaway: it’s an amazingly huge number, but it’s only about 5% of GDP.

      Also, isn’t $2,650 is Per Capita, not pro rata?

    2. Yes, per citizen — using pro rata and per capita as synonymous.

    3. Andrew Morgan Andrew says:

      $800 billion is perhaps “only” 5% of GDP, but it exceeds all of the federal government’s other (individual) outlays. According to the GAO, 2007 spending on Social Security was $626 billion; Medicare and Medicaid, $556 billion; even the DoD got a comparatively paltry $665 billion.

      Total government revenue totaled $2.6 trillion, so $800 billion represents 31% of receipts.

    4. edeldoug says:

      Think about this:

      A Million dollars fits into a nice briefcase.

      A Billion is 1000 Million, so it takes 10 Million $100 Bills to make a Billion. That would fully load 12 shipping pallets with hundred dollar bills.

      A Billion is 1/1000 of a Trillion.

      We’re about to have Trillion Dollar ANNUAL deficits 10 years out, yet the only thing they can find “worthy” of budget cuts is DEFENSE? This in a post 9/11 world where Iran and North Korea will both be nuclear VERY soon.

      Scared yet?`