Putting Billion-Dollar Bailouts in Perspective


Over the past few years, especially as the government has shelled out billions of dollars to keep the financial system afloat, the wars going, and generally maintain our barely civilized society, we’ve all become inured to what a “billion dollars” actually is. These days, it’s the bare minimum you need to be considered “rich,” a fraction of Michael Bloomberg’s net worth, the amount in a sack of alms Goldman Sachs might drop at the feet of poor at Christmastime. AIG needs another $50 billion? Oh, go on. After all, that’s “a drop in the ocean,” according to a former managing director at Lehman Brothers. In reality, a billion dollars is a staggering amount of money. To put it in perspective: If you were to count to a billion, it would take you around 30 years. To put it further in perspective, the people at Information Is Beautiful have put together this lovely chart, which helps contextualize how many billions have been spent lately, and — more disturbingly — on what. If you are disturbed by what you see in the graphic up top, check out what’s after the jump.

We’re not so sure the soothing colors were the right way to go here — a flashing mess of red and yellow and bold type and doomsday fonts might have been more appropriate. But the good news is, compared to this, our credit-card bill seems totally manageable.

Information Is Beautiful [via Big Picture]