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Thirty-Four Trillion Dollars and No One Cares

mike johnson

What's another trillion? What's another five trillion or ten trillion when no one cares? It's not like it's real money anyway!

Perusing the internet this morning, I found this little beauty and was reminded of why I became a "gold analyst" all those years ago...

us debt may 2024

The full article is behind the Fortune magazine paywall, but the headline sums it up perfectly. The current U.S. debt total has reached $34.6T, but no one in politics could give a darn. They just keep spending and spending in order to buy off as many voters as possible while funding all of their wars.

And I suppose part of the reason that "no one cares" is the sheer size of the number. Trillion is just a word like million or billion, and besides, in your everyday life, do you really feel the impact? And so, it will just continue to be "business as usual" until the day comes when it's not.

But for this week, let's not settle for the "trillion is the new billion" mindset. Let's try to place this into some context. Come on. It'll be fun.

Let's start with the word "trillion". That sounds like a lot, and it is. A trillion of anything is enormous. For example...

  • One second is just a moment, but a trillion seconds is approximately 31,500 years.
  • The Eiffel Tower is 11,800 inches tall. You could stack about 85 million of them for a one trillion-inch tower, but that might take a while to build.
  • There are 64 million ounces of water in an Olympic swimming pool. One trillion ounces of water would fill 15,525 pools. 
  • The speed of light is pretty fast, and it takes about two earth months for it to travel a trillion miles.

OK, that was fun. Now let's equate this to cash...

If you and I were present at the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, and if we were so excited by the event that I promised to hand you $1 every minute of every day since, you'd now have a total of $1,064,624,000. That's a lot of cash! However, we'd have to keep doing this for about another 940 years before you'd have a stack of cash that adds up to one trillion.

What if you took your stack of one trillion dollar bills and tried to reach the moon. Could you make it? Well, not quite. It would take about 3.5 trillion to get you there. However, 34.6 trillion would get you there and back five times!

What if you were able to walk around the earth at the equator, and what if you laid dollar bills end-to-end along the way? If you did so, you'd lay out about $263 million, so it would take about four laps to use one billion dollars. But we're talking trillions here, so about 4,000 laps around the earth would stack one trillion dollars. 

How about one more?

In the U.S., "border security" is all the rage this election year, and the U.S. southern border is about 2,000 miles long. If the politicians were so inclined, they could build a wall along that border using stacks of dollar bills that total one trillion. How high would that wall be?  Well, about $20 billion would get you a 4.3 inch "wall" that stretches the length of the border. To use one trillion dollars, you could stack that wall fifty times higher, making its total height 215 inches or about 18 feet tall.

By now, my hope is that you have a feel for just how large the number one trillion is. But remember, we're not talking about total U.S. debt at just one trillion. Nope. It's 34.6 TRILLION! What would that get you? Well first up, our "border wall" with Mexico is now over 600 feet tall! What else?

  • The USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier was launched in 2001 at a cost of about $4.5 billion. For another $34.6 trillion, you could build about 7,700 more.
  • The approximate population of earth is about 8 billion people. With $34.6 trillion to spend, you could give each person about $4,300.
  • Or maybe you'd just like to buy everybody a pizza? At an average cost of $25—ah heck, let's go to town and make it a supreme with everything on it—at an average cost of $35 per pizza, your $34.6 trillion would buy you about a trillion pizzas. That's a lot of pizza! About 125 pizzas for each and every person on earth! 

So, what's the point of all this?

Impact on Gold and Silver 

Just buy some gold. Thirty-four point six trillion dollars is such an incomprehensible sum of cash that the politicians don't even care anymore. No one else seems to either. But you should. You most definitely should!

WHEN the time comes for a financial reckoning—and don't kid yourself, it is most definitely coming—your only protection in the storm will be physical gold and silver. Of that, I'm certain. Take some of your own dollars and buy some today while you can still afford to do so.




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About the Author

Our Ask The Expert interviewer Craig Hemke began his career in financial services in 1990 but retired in 2008 to focus on family and entrepreneurial opportunities.

Since 2010, he has been the editor and publisher of the TF Metals Report found at TFMetalsReport.com, an online community for precious metal investors.

*The author is not affiliated with, endorsed or sponsored by Sprott Money Ltd. The views and opinions expressed in this material are those of the author or guest speaker, are subject to change and may not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sprott Money Ltd. Sprott Money does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, timeliness and reliability of the information or any results from its use.


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