The United States is in a serious debt crisis. This country isn’t millions or billions of dollars in debt. We are TRILLIONS of dollars in debt! But what does a trillion dollars look like? It’s hard to visualize, so I thought I’d use Google Sketchup to help get a sense of what exactly a trillion dollars looks like.
$100 Dollar Bill
We’ll start with a $100 dollar bill. Currently the largest U.S. denomination in general circulation. Most everyone has seen them, slightly fewer have owned them. Guaranteed to make friends wherever they go.
A packet of one hundred $100 bills is less than 1/2″ thick and contains $10,000. That’s right, a $10,000 stack fits easily into your pocket and is more than enough for a week or two of shamefully decadent fun in Las Vegas.
$1 Million Dollars
Believe it or not, this little pile of money is $1 million dollars (100 packets of $10,000). You could stuff $1 million dollars into a grocery bag and walk around with it.
$100 Million Dollars
While a measly $1 million dollars hardly looks impressive, $100 million is a little more respectable. It fits neatly on a standard shipping pallet.
$1 Billion Dollars
Here’s what $1 BILLION dollars looks like. Now we’re really getting somewhere.
$1 Trillion Dollars!
Are you ready for this? It’s pretty surprising. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you $1 trillion dollars! And notice those pallets are double stacked.
What does a trillion dollars look like in numbers? Well, it’s a million million. It’s a thousand billion. It’s the number one followed by 12 zeros, 1,000,000,000,000!
How Tall Is A Trillion Dollars In $1 Bills?
Forget the pallets. And instead of $100 bills, what if we used $1 bills? If you stacked 1 trillion $1 bills, your stack would be 67,866 miles tall. That’s 1/4 of the way to the moon!
Trillions Of Dollars In Other Currencies
A trillion US dollars is physically a lot of paper, even when using $100 dollar bills. But not all currencies come close to the value of the US dollar. For example, the Zimbabwe dollar has only a fraction of the value of the American dollar. You can physically carry well over one hundred trillion Zimbabwe dollars in your wallet!
The US Debt Crisis
So the next time you hear someone say “_________ trillion dollars,” this is how much money they are actually talking about. Exactly how much is the U.S. national debt? $23+ trillion dollars and counting. With a debt that size, there’s little hope of it ever being paid back.
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Frank Wilson is a retired teacher with over 30 years of combined experience in the education, small business technology, and real estate business. He now blogs as a hobby and spends most days tinkering with old computers. Wilson is passionate about tech, enjoys fishing, and loves drinking beer.