What does a trillion dollars look like?

Michael Victory's picture

I was a zero. I came to grips with it in 9th
grade when my girlfriend said c'ya. Because I didn’t play in the big game Friday night? Because I’d rather
spend a Saturday on a launch ramp trying to pull backsides? Probably
both, me… a zero. Back then I thought zeros were bad. Turns out the more zeros
you parade the bigger and badder your story really is.


Twelve zeros is the latest craze as federal spending grows
faster than revenues and deficits drive debt higher and faster.

So, what does a trillion look like and what comes next?

First: When trillion becomes old school, what will replace


A Tale Of Many Zeros

Next: How do a trillion cool ones stack up?

(I like them, but don't take credit for the images below. Props to JB at pagetudor for putting this illustration together and FSN for the heads up.) 



The illustration starts with a $100 dollar bill. Currently the
largest U.S. denomination in general circulation. Most everyone has seen them, slightly
fewer have owned them. Benji’s are certain to make friends wherever they go.

A packet of one hundred $100 bills is less than 1/2" thick and contains $10,000. 100 burritos can fit in your pocket easily and is more than enough for week or two of shamefully decadent fun.


Believe it or
not, this next little pile is $1 million worth of bills (100 packets of
$10,000). You could stuff that into a grocery bag and walk around with it.

While a measly
$1 million looked a little unimpressive, $100 million in bread is a bit more
respectable. It fits neatly on a standard pallet...

And 1 billion bux... now we're getting somewhere...

And finally..

$1 trillion


Notice the pallets are double stacked.
...and remember those are $100 bills.

The next time you hear someone toss around the phrase "trillion dollars"... that's what they're talking about.



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Urban Redneck's picture

The US needs a $1000 bill to complement their money printing.  The EU has the €500 and the Swiss have the CHF1000.

The Alarmist's picture

There was a $10,000 bill with a pic of Salmon P. Chase on it that is still legal tender.  There are more than 300 of these outstanding, but none seem to be actually circulating.  

There are also other large denominations between $100 and $5000, but the Fed pulled most of these out of circulation by the late 60's.  So if hyperinflation kicks in, they at least already have templates to work with.

Oddly, there was at one time a $100,000 gold-certificate with the pic of ... wait for it ... Woodrow Wilson.  Fitting that the man who launched the US on the path to currency debasement would be on a gold certificate, no?


FluffyCone's picture

A US$1000 bill would make money smuggling easier. LOL!!!

On that note, why not a US$1 trillion bill. Takes about the same amount of space as a US$1 dollar bill and China could mail 2 of them back overnight in a small FedEx envelope. ;-)

Steroid's picture

On that FedEx note, make it a $1T gold coin instead of confetti and it will be constitutional!

Yen Cross's picture

On a heavier note. That would be one heavy nugget! It might even collapse through the earths crust, and end up in China! Smiles.

FunkyMonkeyBoy's picture

Can we have the illustrations updated, but using $1 dollar bills. Currently, it's just not hard hitting enough for the average joe american meat head.

tecno242's picture

I think we could stick with 100's... we just need one more slide.

That was 1 trillion... lets show our entire national debt..

which is now 15 trillion.  So stack those double stacks up 15 high bitch.

FunkyMonkeyBoy's picture

Whats the current population of the U.S? About 320m?

That's 15trillion / 320m = $46,875 approx each for every man woman a child.

Did i forget a zero?

It's a hell of a lot more if you just count the working population.

End result: f**ked.

Drag Racer's picture

ya, but I want to see what a trillion looks like in food stamps

Dollar Bill Hiccup's picture

What about a bazillion dollars? I don't see that on the list. Maybe I really was sleeping through math class ...

Crisismode's picture

I think you mean Brazillion dollars.

Those are coming from a South American bank soon.

strannick's picture

I think brazillion refers to the close shave taxpayers will be taking to their privates equity

tslv50's picture

Bernanke will be aiming to be the first man on the Vigintillion dollar bill, so he can make times man of the year again.

Hugh G Rection's picture

Thats thinking too small for Bernank.


He'll be on the infinitillion dollar bill

VegasBob's picture

This just goes to show that US money isn't worth what it used to be.

DavosSherman's picture

Your 9th grade cheerleader was the ZERO, not you!

Poule Mouillee's picture

Also notice that in the bottom picture, the pallets are stacked 2 high.

uformula's picture

Lol!  Man that is awesome!

doggings's picture

all 13 of them stacked up here, total global cost of the bailouts end of 09


falak pema's picture

the man shrinks, his shadow grows, that says it all...

euclidean's picture

I came across this (above) when Dumsfeld and his war croneys claimed to have 'lost' $2.3 trillion back in 2001. Somewhere, it's goneski. 2.3 times the bottom picture went 'puff' up in smoke. It'll be sitting in some stainless steel shipping containers somewhere.

Spank me if Dumsfeld, BushCo and all their military mates aren't living high on the hog at your expense. This graphic if even remotely factual completes the joke of that is the USD.

Rhodin's picture

There are all kinds of guesses as to what that money was spent on.  From black space ops to secret underground and undersea bases with connecting transit tunnels.  Your guess is as good no doubt.

The Pentagon started an investigation, but most of the investigators were killed by whatever (missle, bomb, plane or combo) on 9/11.  No one wanted to resume investigating, wonder why?!

gdogus erectus's picture

I think it was Cheney that anounced to the nation that they lost 2.3 trillion dollars and that the ONI was investigating.  He went public on TV with that info on September 10, 2001.  Next day a projectile flew in the window of the ONI in the Pentagon.  Just a coincidence, I'm sure.  But I digress.  And yes, it was trillions with a 'T'.

palmereldritch's picture

It was Rumsfeld. @ 0:49  Don't know about the ONI but Delmart Vreeland is alleged to have been part of that group.


LowProfile's picture

That was billions.  Not that it excuses it, but still.

euclidean's picture

Add 3 more zero's champ - $trillion is the right answer; multiple references incl video of D-man himself. Reply by the people? Nil, none, nada. You've been had so many fucking times I've lost count.

The War On Waste
Defense Department Cannot Account For 25% Of Funds — $2.3 Trillion


"We know it's gone. But we don't know what they spent it on," said JM, Defense Finance and Accounting Service. <<-- You are fucking kidding me right????

(sidenote: A few $billion doesn't cover the weekly expenses at Camp Afghanistan)


The Alarmist's picture

I think you are both right ... a $100B in cash was tossed around willy nilly (which explains why the daily number of flights from Afhanistan to Dubai went from 3 to 9, and a total of $2T+ was blown on other things.

Manthong's picture

The spending or debt is not the scary part to me.

Everyone knows that the derivatives market is layers of complex interwoven bets on bets on bets on flakey underlying debt and is what almost brought the system down save for trillions in bailouts.

The scary part is that to my understanding, the derivatives market today is over $500 Trillion in size and they couldn't wind it down even if they wanted. 

Spirit Of Truth's picture

As long as the change of change in change goes in the right direction, there's nothing to worry about w/the $500 trillion in derivatives. (8O) <==OH! face

But if something does go wrong with Wall Street's newest all-in bets, I'm sure the tax payers will recharge their universe-scale high-stake casino accounts with nary a protest or complaint as long as American Idol stays on the air.

Michael's picture

Try $1 bills stacked on top of each other equivalent to the national debt.

You would have 5 stacks that reached from the surface of the Earth to the surface of the Moon, literally.

You could make a physical ladder to the Moon with that kind of money out of $1 bills.