What $700B Means In Ferraris, Donkeys And Clones

As the nation pondered the figure $700 billion today, some of us here at Day to Day were embracing the fact that we didn't pursue a career in mathematics. $700 billion is a tricky number to understand, but we tried. Here's some of what we came up with:

$700 billion could buy 700,000 Ferrari Enzos (even though there were only 400 ever made). That's one for every person in Alaska. Sarah Palin would not approve.

Ferraris In Alaska

NPR Composite Of AP Photos

$700 billion could buy a laptop for every child (age 5-19) in the whole wide world. With all that great online learning going on, perhaps one of those children could come up with a solution to solve Wall Street's woes.

Laptops for the world

Martin Mejia/Getty

Why take $700 billion in check form when you could take it in hundred dollar bills? If you were to pick up that massive bag of cash — what would it feel like? About the same as lifting 1400 African bull elephants or 51,330 adult domesticated donkeys. (Note: we apologize for the mathematical inaccuracy of the photos — this one apparently still has some growing up to do:

Donkey and Elephant

Dale Arnold/AP

Let's say the Treasury department decides to go all environmental on us and use a single printer to produce the $100 bills necessary to "save America's future." How long would it take to print? At a rate of $1/second — it would take 220 years working 24-7. At which point, we're guessing, $700 billion would only buy a single Ferrari Enzo.

Lots of Money

Chung Sung-Jun/Getty

$700 billion is the value of 12 Bill Gates — although for significantly less the tech mastermind himself could be cloned that many times.

12 Bill Gates

Gabriel Bouys/Getty

What's your reference point for $700 billion? Give us something better than these and we'll try to incorporate them into a gallery on Monday.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Well, laid end-to-end all those dollar bills would get us 276 round trips to the moon!

Sent by Peter Burnet | 8:16 PM | 9-27-2008

$700 Billion is corporate welfare and it is costing WE the People A LOT of money to bail out 700 greedy CEO's, CFO's, and board members--so $700 billion divided by 700 greedy leaches= $1 Billion Bandaids for each

Sent by Aimee | 12:49 AM | 9-29-2008

About 1,500 bridges to nowhere, 12,000 Empire State buildings, 500 space shuttle missions (the space shuttle have been launched about 115 times as of August 2006).

Sent by Luis Colorado | 4:01 PM | 9-29-2008

$700 billion would send 4,166,666 students to Harvard. I would imagine at least a few of those would major in some business/econ discipline and could help sort out this mess.

For those 4+ million students, it could also buy them 3,181,818,181,818 packets of Ramen or 17,500,000,000 cases of Red Bull (24 to a case). That raw energy could then be turned into dozens of theses on economic salvation in America.

Sent by Olivia Giovetti | 5:50 PM | 9-29-2008

I'm a high school economics teacher and investor. I just don't understand why this meltdown is a surprise to anyone. Since 1985 our National Savings Rate (according to the Fed) dropped from an average of about 10% to 0. Actually in 2005 we were buying so much on credit we went NEGATIVE! Meanwhile our consumer debt has grown from half a trillion dollars to over $2.5 trillion. That is a personal debt of little over 18% of the US GDP (2007). Furthermore, US public debt reached $5 trillion, nearly 37% of the US GDP (2007), and total national debt reached $9 trillion or over 65% of the US GDP (2007). What a perfect trifecta: the government owes $9 trillion, consumers owe over $2.5 trillion, and consumers have been saving (on average) less than 3% since 1999... The total per capita debt is over $38,000 while the per capita income was nearly $27,000 (US Census 2007)... I realize I'm just a high school econ teacher but I don't think it takes much to understand that this consumer debt had to come crashing down on us.

Sent by Juan | 7:18 PM | 9-29-2008