U.S. Treasury Securities

$16.4 Trillion

with 5 comments

In August, 2011, Congress passed and President Obama signed into law a $16.4 trillion debt ceiling, the largest in U.S. in history. Most Americans see this as just another number; they don’t really appreciate the enormity of this figure. Here are a few comparisons to put this figure into perspective, and to make it more interesting.

The Popular Example

The $16.4 trillion U.S. debt ceiling divided by the country’s 115.9 million households is equal to $141,501 in debt per family.

Interesting Comparisons

Earth to Sun

If someone were to line up $16.4 trillion in one-dollar bills, end-to-end, the chain would stretch 1.589 billion miles: 17 times the distance between the Earth and the Sun.

Note: length of a one dollar bill is 6.14 inches; the average distance between the Earth and the Sun is 93 million miles

Great Pyramid of Egypt

The weight of $16.4 trillion in nickels is equal to the weight of 301 Great Pyramids of Egypt, the world’s largest man-made structure.

Note: 90.718 nickels per pound; Great Pyramid of Egypt is estimated to weigh 6 million tons

Height of Stacked Dollar Bills

If you were to divide $16.4 trillion by the 312 million people in the U.S., each person would have a stack of one-dollar bills that is 18.8 feet high.

Note: thickness of a one dollar bill is 0.0043 inches

Value of Gold in the World

The sum of the world’s gold is worth $9.5 trillion, considerably less than $16.4 trillion.

Note: all the gold mined in the history of mankind is estimated to be 5.3 billion troy ounces; the historical high for gold (August, 2011) was about $1,800 per troy ounce

Boeing 747’s

You would need 1,221 Boeing 747-8 jumbo jets to transport $16.4 trillion in $100 dollar bills.

Note: $1 million in $100 bills (largest U.S. legal tender note) weighs 22.05 pounds; Boeing 747-8 maximum cargo capacity is 148 tons


Written by Larry Ng

August 14, 2011 at 9:49 PM

5 Responses

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  1. Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I’m impressed! Extremely useful info specifically the last part 🙂 I care for such information much. I was looking for this certain information for a long time. Thank you and good luck.

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    September 14, 2011 at 9:53 PM

  2. This infographic brings home the enormity of the debt, for me at least. 😉


    Shiva Ramabadran

    September 19, 2011 at 7:51 AM

  3. Very interesting topic , thankyou for putting up.

    Matilda Moravek

    October 1, 2011 at 5:48 PM

  4. The popular example of $141,501 debt per household doesn’t seem that high. Each household has a mortgage. Only thing is, they can’t pay it back.


    November 1, 2011 at 1:42 PM

  5. ^this person should give her son $141,501 then…


    November 8, 2011 at 2:17 PM

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