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How Much Money Is In The World?

It’d take you 2.5 million years to count that high.

How much money is in the world? At first, it seems like an out-of-the-blue question a precocious kindergartner would ask their teacher. Unless that teacher moonlit at the Federal Reserve, they probably wouldn’t have the answer on hand. On Monday, a listener asked the same question to the financial gurus at Marketplace and they came up with an answer: $80,000,000,000,000 (if you count up the zeroes, that’s $80 trillion).

Photo by Nic McPhee/Flickr.

According to Jacob Kirkegaard, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the number of U.S. dollars in circulation is a number known by the Federal Reserve as M0. “[It’s] essentially the number of notes and coins in circulation,” Kirkegaard told Marketplace. “For the United States, that number on the Federal Reserve website is somewhere in the vicinity of $1.5 trillion.”

According to Kirkegaard, on a global level, the number of notes and coins in circulation totals about $5 trillion. But that only accounts for a small segment of the world’s money. The vast majority of money in the world sits on digital bank ledgers in savings accounts, money-market accounts, and checking accounts. According to Marketplace, the global total is in excess of $80 trillion.

For some perspective:

— $80 trillion dollars is about four times the amount of the U.S. National Debt.

— The height of a stack of 80,000,000,000,000 one dollar bills would go from the Earth to the moon and back about 11 times.

— A trillion seconds is equal to 2,560,000 years.

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