Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How Big Is One Trillion? (1,000,000,000,000)

Thomas Sowell breaks it down:

Many people have trouble even forming some notion of what such numbers as billion and trillion mean. One way to get some idea of the magnitude of a trillion is to ask: How long ago was a trillion seconds?

A trillion seconds ago, no one on this planet could read and write. Neither the Roman Empire nor the ancient Chinese dynasties had yet come into existence. None of the founders of the world's great religions today had yet been born.

That's what a trillion means. Put a dollar sign in front of it and that's what the current bailout may cost.

MP: One trillion seconds equals 16.667 billion minutes, 277.7 million hours, 11.574 million days, and 31,710 years.

6 Comments:

At 9/24/2008 8:50 AM, Anonymous Kevin said...

Stop publishing crap that speaks in terms of the COST of the bailout...these securities have value and the gov't made money off of RTC...Sowell made be smart on some issues but on this one he is clueless and stupid.

 
At 9/24/2008 8:51 AM, Blogger Walt G. said...

I’m always surprised when someone presents two alternative decisions to solve a problem and simply assumes that the choice of doing nothing is “free.” Why would anyone like that ever change the oil in their car?

I’m not saying that the “bailout” is good, but I would like to know how much the alternative costs would be before I make a properly informed decision on where I stand as a taxpayer—and 401(k) investor.

 
At 9/24/2008 2:56 PM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

.

> Sowell made be smart on some issues but on this one he is clueless and stupid.

I would be real careful of making that claim. Chances are, you're a lot more ignorant, clueless, and stupid than he is on just about anything dealing with economics and finance.


That said, I do think that one needs to place that "one trillion" into context --

Simply put, "How long does it take for the USA to make one trillion dollars"?

A: about 25 1/2 days.

So it's kind of like you having to spend three weeks salary bailing out your black sheep brother-in-law who has got himself into dutch with some unsavory bookie types. Not good, not nice, but not quite as bad as all that.


And this goes particularly to Walt's comment --

Worry more about whether or not the overall manner of its application is such to make sure your BiL doesn't do it again.

You might want to break at least one kneecap for your own future interest.

.

 
At 9/24/2008 9:35 PM, Anonymous qt said...

We definitely should be asking some questions. I don't see how we can get out of a major intervention.

This link was posted by Greg Mankiw of economists against the Paulson plan.

 
At 9/25/2008 3:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

what is interesting is that any of us thinks our opinion makes any difference in the ultimate outcome..sad to see the "illusion" of control of our own lives continues even now..

 
At 9/29/2008 2:39 AM, Blogger OBloodyHell said...

> what is interesting is that any of us thinks our opinion makes any difference in the ultimate outcome..sad to see the "illusion" of control of our own lives continues even now.

Silly little man. Does it matter much? No. But in the larger scheme of things, yes, it matters -- because each of us does things and says things that make other people think. And that has ripple effects far beyond our own little bit of direct control.

Everyone who is scared and starts pulling in and cashing out and buying gold, etc., is just one more pickup stick. Sooner or later, the whole thing falls apart more due to sheer panic than due to any real grasp of the problem.

Discussing things gives people a sense of what is going on, and how others feel about it, which is relevant to assuaging that possibility of panic.

Do we control the situation?

No.

But maintaining a level head in the face of an out of control situation is far from a bad idea. And to maintain a level head requires a feeling of what is going on, even when you can't necessarily do anything about it.

 

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