We use cookies. You have options. Cookies help us keep the site running smoothly and inform some of our advertising, but if you’d like to make adjustments, you can visit our Cookie Notice page for more information.
We’d like to use cookies on your device. Cookies help us keep the site running smoothly and inform some of our advertising, but how we use them is entirely up to you. Accept our recommended settings or customise them to your wishes.

What Eight Hundred Billion Dollars Looks Like

Different organizations have put forth different suggestions for the 2008 word-of-the-year, including change, bailout, overshare, and hypermiling.

My suggestion for 2008 word-of-the-year?


Once unfathomably large, we now toss around billion with conversational ease. Billion is in the news a lot more, too.


My kids were listening to the proposed stimulus package being discussed on the radio.

They asked me what $800B looked like.


The familar buck.


One hundred dollars.


Ten thousand dollars.

10 000

One million dollars, below.

1 000 000

This is one hundred million dollars.

100 000 000

Ten billion dollars here.

10 000 000 000

One hundred billion dollars. Each tiny pink box is a hundred mil.

100 000 000 000

And eight of those. Here's eight hundred billion dollars.

800 000 000 000

I think I got that right. Hard not to drop a zero.

Every $100B expenditure works out to $330 dollars per citizen -- each man, woman, child, and baby. So my pro-rata portion of the proposed $800b stimulus plan is about $2,650.

Yours, too.

Me, wife, and two kids: $10,600.

$800B is the stimulus plan. I'm not counting the $700B TARP -- another $9300 obligation for my family -- because there's a chance the Treasury gets the money back, or even turns profit on it. Also not counting the Detroit bailout.

My head spins.

Join the Discussion