The web is buzzing with silly talk of fixing the economy by minting a trillion dollar coin. So just how big would that coin be, if it were made of gold?
Yup. That’s a football field. Details below.
You’ve probably heard about the “Trillion Dollar Coin” by now, and maybe even taken the time to take in the experts’ predictably confident and just as polarized positions on the topic. The fact that the idea is even being discussed seriously is rather telling. Can you imagine the same conversation occurring before the bailouts of 2008? It seems unlikely. And that’s ONE angle on this whole thing that especially intrigues me. As much anger as some of us may have experienced as a result of the bailouts and their aftermath, I for one am thankful for them. Partly because it was probably the only way to avoid a replay of the great depression, but more importantly, because it was probably the first crack in a centuries-old paradigm that has far outlived its usefulness. Talk to someone who has studied economics, and the conversation will rapidly fill up with elaborate terminology that tries to express the incredible complexity of global markets and speculative investment. But as much pride as economists or financial experts may take as they display their head-spinning depth of knowledge on the topic, they are usually overlooking one stark, annoyingly simple fact. At the foundation of it all, their elaborate constructs are all based on a rather simple social contract, i.e.: the tacit agreement on the part of large numbers of people that a piece of paper is worth what someone says it is. It’s tragic that millions of people suffered through a decade of poverty and that perfectly functional factories sat idle after the crash of 1929. And the tragedy was compounded by the fact that it was primarily because pieces of paper had lost their perceived value. That was the magical thing that occurred in 2008; Paulson & Bernanke’s Bailout Bankster Brigade basically “broke capitalism”. That has only peripherally sunk in for people, but every passing day, more people get hip to concepts like fictitious capital, and we live in an era of some of the most innovative thought in human history. About the only thing the archaic entity called a “bank” is good for these days is laundering drug or war money, and centralizing power. That paradigm is not long for this world, in my opinion.
That’s why I don’t find the blogsplosion about the Trillion Dollar Coin particularly interesting. As Matt Taibbi, the pop media journalist the Goldman Bankster Gang loves to hate most points out in his most recent piece: “The federal rescue of Wall Street didn’t fix the economy – it created a permanent bailout state based on a Ponzi-like confidence scheme”. A paper version of the Trillion Dollar Coin was created in 2008, and we’ve been gleefully spending imaginary money since long before that, it’s just that the average person doesn’t understand why THEY don’t have any. They’ll eventually figure this out, and that’s when the feces will really hit the fan. So what really intrigued me was this silly question:
What if we still had to back currency with a real-world asset, and we were only allowed to mint this trillion dollar coin out of GOLD?
Here’s the rough result. I explain my admittedly sketchy methods below.
I’m no genius when it comes to volumetric geometry and 3D imaging, so this graphic may be a little off. Feel free to correct me in the comments! I used yesterday’s price of gold, which was $1661 an ounce. Dividing a trillion with that figure, I determined it would take about 181.23 tons of gold, and according to Wolfram Alpha, that would require a cube that’s 65 meters on each side. I tried to approximate the dimensions of a quarter (24.26mm x 1.75mm) to create the cylinder/disc dimensions. That ended up being a disc about 418 meters in diameter and 2 meters thick. The football field isn’t perfectly to scale, but you could obviously fit four football fields end-to-end on a 420 meter disc, so I roughed it in.