Thursday, July 24, 2008

Millions and Billions and Trillions

What’s the difference between a million, a billion and a trillion?

In the last posting on this blog lots of big numbers got tossed around. How can someone grasp a number like $77 trillion or even one trillion dollars for that matter?

In a straight forward mathematical context, one thousand multiplied by one thousand equals one million. And a million multiplied by one thousand equals one billion. While a billion times one thousand equals one trillion.

It might be easier to grasp the order of magnitude of these differences if you think of it this way. If a million dollars equates to a single inch, then 1,000 inches or 83.33 feet equates to a billion dollars. And, 1,000 billions equals a trillion dollars, which equates to 15.78 miles. On your next long walk or short car ride, this will help you put the United States’ debt crises into better perspective.

The more we understand the more we appreciate the magnitude of the problem.

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