Visualizing the (Massive) Size of the US National Debt
Data visualization plots the US National Debt against everything from the assets managed by the world’s largest money managers to the annual value of gold production, and shows that:
The US national debt is larger than the 500 largest public companies in the US: The S&P 500 is a stock market index that tracks the value of the 500 largest US companies by market capitalization. In summer of 2016, the value of all of these 500 companies together added to $19.1 trillion—just short of the debt total.
- The US national debt is larger than all assets managed by the world’s top seven money managers: The world’s largest money managers manage trillions of investor assets in stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, and more. If we take the top seven of these companies and add all of their assets under management together, it adds up to only $18.9 trillion.
- The US national debt is 25x larger than all global oil exports in 2015: Countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Russia make a killing off of selling their oil around the world. However, the numbers behind these exports are paltry in comparison to the debt. For example, the Saudis would have to donate the next 146 years of revenue from their oil exports to fully pay down the debt.
- The US national debt is 155x larger than the gold mined globally in a year: Gold has symbolized money and wealth for a long time, but even the world’s annual production of roughly 3,000 tonnes of the yellow metal barely puts a dent in the debt total. At today’s prices, you’d need to mine 155 years’ worth of gold at today’s rate to equal the debt.
- The national debt is larger than the world’s physical currency, gold, silver, and bitcoin combined: If you rounded up every single dollar, euro, yen, pound, yuan and any other global physical currency note or coin in existence, it only amounts to $5 trillion. Adding the world’s physical gold ($7.7 trillion), silver ($20 billion) and cryptocurrencies ($11 billion) on top of that, you get to a total of $12.73 trillion. That’s equal to about 65% of the US national debt.