How much is a trillion, really? | Bleader

Monday, December 5, 2011

How much is a trillion, really?

Posted By on 12.05.11 at 11:00 AM

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DeVry University historian Jerry Harris's explanation of why the economy is in the toilet includes the technology that allows ginormous amounts of money to whiz around the world, chasing after more money (mostly in derivatives). But the numbers are so huge, they're mere abstractions for most of us. One way to get a handle on, say, the difference between a million and a billion, Harris says, is to translate the numbers into time. So, for starters:

How long is one million seconds? Eleven-and- a-half days.

One billion seconds? About 32 years.

One trillion seconds? Nearly 32,000 years.

And that $7.7 trillion we just learned the Fed loaned secretly at near-zero interest to the big banks in 2008 and 2009? A really long time.

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