CEI - How Big is $13 Trillion in Debt?

Friends of CEI,


Regardless of your political party or ideological leanings, the notion of the federal government spending $2 trillion, adding to the national debt of nearly $11 trillion already, should make you stop and consider the staggering size of our national tab.


If the irony of using debt-based spending to solve a problem caused by debt-based spending has escaped you (I doubt it has), perhaps these fun facts will put things into perspective:

  • If you spent $1 every second, you'd have to keep spending for 412,000 years to get to $13 trillion. That means you'd have to start shortly after the time human beings first starting using stone tools and fire to get to $13 trillion today.
  • $13 trillion in one dollar bills weighs 28 million pounds. That's as much as 87 blue whales or 462 Statues of Liberty.
  • If you laid 13 trillion one-dollar bills end-to-end they'd reach from the earth to the sun and back...five times over. That's 946 million miles of greenbacks.

The amount we're looking at now—roughly $2 trillion between the Secretary Geithner's new bank bailout plan and President Obama's stimulus package—isn't small potatoes either. So what is $2 trillion?

  • $2 trillion is bigger than the entire Gross Domestic Product of our neighbor to the north, Canada. In fact, according to the IMF, only Japan, Germany, China, the United Kingdom, France, and Italy have bigger total economies than the combined bailout/stimulus plan—all other countries on Earth have economies smaller than $2 trillion per year.

Then there's the interest on this staggering debt, which isn't exactly small. Paying the interest on the current $10.7 trillion debt cost Americans $451.1 billion last year alone. How big is that?

  • That's $1478 dollars in interest for every man, woman, and child in the United States.
  • That's bigger than the annual budgets of New York ($121.1 billion), California ($111.1 billion) and Texas ($83.8 billion) combined.

If you're scared, upset, or disgusted by this, you can do something. Visit BeyondBailouts.org and tell your Congressman and the President what you think of the bank bailout and stimulus.


You can also forward this email to your friends, family, and colleagues using the button below. Or, visit OpenMarket.org and click on the "ShareThis" button to share these fun facts on your favorite social network.


Yours in liberty,


Cord Blomquist

Senior Communications Director

Competitive Enterprise Institute