Big Money

17 Billion

You know, it's a lot of money. But really, what is 17 billion? In America, it's 1000 million. Just to confuse things, in Europe a billion often refers to a million millions. Whatever, the number shows up with remarkable frequency in the news. Here's a short sampling:

— According to a report from Eurostat released this week, the European Union's trade deficit with the rest of the world was 17.1 billion Euros. That's up from 15.3 just last October.

— CBS News reported last year that in 1983, companies spent $100 million marketing to kids. In 2007, they spent nearly $17 billion.

— Last year Thompson Corporation paid $17.2 billion to acquire the news wire service, Reuters Group.

— Microsoft's 2007 version of Excel offers a maximum spreadsheet size of 16,000 columns containing 17 billion cells.

— Astronomers believe the universe is about 17 billion years old.

— Last year Princeton University's endowment was estimated to be worth about $17 billion

— An Egyptian blogger recently estimated the cost of building The Great Pyramid, at today's labor rates: about 17 billion British pounds.

The Huffington Post reported this week that Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme may cost the US Treasury $17 billion in lost tax revenue.

— Assuming a Cadillac budget of $5 million per year, $17 billion would keep Day to Day on the air for more than three millennia, until the year 5409.



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.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from