The cost of the AIG bailout has now reached $152 billion. You may find this number difficult to comprehend.
We understand a million. That's what used to make one rich, before it became the price of a small fixer-upper in Madison Park. Billions are more of a problem. Only when placed in context can one understand the enormity of $152 billion.
Allow me to illustrate. Consider a stack of bond certificates, each worth $1 billion. To reach a value of $152 billion, this stack would rise to MORE THAN ONE AND ONE-QUARTER OF AN INCH in height.
Here are a few more illustrations of how $152 billion measures up:
· If you wanted to give one dollar for each galaxy in the universe, $152 billion would pay FOR THE FIRST 30 PER CENT.
· $152 billion equals 0.2 per cent of THE NUMBER OF CELLS IN THE AVERAGE HUMAN BODY.
· $152 billion is MORE THAN DOUBLE $75 billion and MORE THAN HALF of $300 billion.
· $152 billion equals 0.3 per cent of the TOTAL CREDIT DEFAULT SWAP MARKET.
· $152 billion could reduce the actuarial DEFICIT OF THE SOCIAL SECURITY SYSTEM by 1.1 per cent.
· $152 billion could finance ALMOST SEVEN Boston-style "Big Digs."
· If one divided this $152 billion bailout equally among ten insurance companies, EACH WOULD RECEIVE $15.2 BILLION. If one divided it equally between five insurance companies, EACH WOULD RECEIVE $30.4 BILLION.
· With $152 billion, one could purchase A LOT OF EXPENSIVE STUFF, including the Honus Wagner T206 baseball card, AND STILL HAVE MONEY LEFT OVER.
· Invested in municipal bonds paying 5 per cent, $152 billion would produce annual TAX-FREE INCOME OF $7.6 BILLION.
· $152 billion equals 0.9 per cent of THE GDP OF THE EUROPEAN UNION.
· $152 billion is equal to 37 per cent of the $410 billion OMNIBUS-SPENDING BILL the Senate passed last Tuesday.
· If ants were priced at 20 cents per thousand, one could PURCHASE 7 PER CENT OF THE WORLD'S ANT SUPPLY for $152 billion.
I trust this has helped you to put the IMMENSE SUM OF $152 BILLION in perspective.