NPR (National Public Radio) presented an amazing and memorable explanation of “how large is a trillion.”
I thought it important to post the information here because we hear “a trillion” this and “a trillion” that thrown around today like it’s nothing. We get so used to hearing it that the meaning becomes insignificant. I’m sure our parents rarely heard it. I bet our grandparents never heard it – certainly not in relation to the economy.
And you may notice that, too often, “trillion” is used when discussing US expenditures or debt. Bummer.
Ok, so how large is a trillion?
- If you stack up enough $100 bills to make $100,000 – the stack would be 4 inches tall.
- If you stack up enough $100 bills to make One Million Dollars – $1,000,000 – the stack would be 40″ tall (just over 3 feet).
- If you stack up enough $100 bills to make One Trillion Dollars – $1,000,000,000,000 – the stack would be 679 miles high.
In case you thought one trillion was just a bit more than one million, you were wrong. When I first wrote this post in March of 2010, our national debt was quickly approaching $13 trillion. Today, less than four years later, our national debt is over $17 trillion.
The Outstanding Public Debt as of 26 Dec 2013 at 02:28:06 PM GMT was $17,257,742,289,617.93.
Now, next time you hear the word “trillion”, think about what that means.