How Much Is A Trillion?

by Joe Plemon on July 5, 2009

Creative Commons License photo credit: apyykko

Q: Joe, I hear about Congress spending a trillion dollars, but I am having trouble comprehending how much a trillion is. Do you have any illustrations that would help?

A: A million is a thousand thousands. A trillion is a million millions. If you could lay a trillion thousand dollar bills end to end they would circle Planet Earth four times. You could buy 1,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies for every person in the United States with a trillion dollars. One trillion barrels of oil, at current consumption rates, would fuel the entire world for 33 years.

If you started spending a million dollars a day the year Christ was born, you would not run out of money for another 730 years. According to market prices listed in a 2008 Forbes report, a trillion dollars would purchase Microsoft, Pepsi Cola, Coca Cola, Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Apple and Google. And you would have $1,000,000,000 (one billion dollars left over).

The sobering fact is that a trillion dollars of debt is $3,333 for every American citizen. As you say, a trillion is a big number.


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