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Fourteen-Digit Debt Busts Durst’s Clock

It’s time for a new one.


The national debt crossed the $10 trillion mark recently, which means, among other things, that the Durst real-estate empire has to buy a new National Debt Clock. The current counter, on the side of a Durst Organization–owned building in midtown, can handle only thirteen digits. “My father never would have expected this,” says Douglas Durst, whose dad, Seymour, unveiled the clock in 1989, when the debt hovered under $3 trillion. Last Monday, the company reprogrammed the ticker so that its leftmost display box, which previously displayed a dollar sign, could instead show a number. The LED replacement clock should be installed next year. “We’d like to make it more animated, so we can present more information on the debt and how rapidly it’s growing,” Durst says. “The $10 trillion number is just inconceivable. We’ll try to give an idea of what 10 trillion is by comparing it to other big numbers. For example, that 10 trillion seconds takes us back to some particular point in the past.” That’s about 300,000 years ago.

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