Math, Gold and a Trillion

We’re hearing a trillion in the news frequently from a trillion bailout for the Europeans, a trillion in debt and the list goes on…  What is a trillion?

First, a trillion is a “1” followed by twelve zeroes:  1,000,000,000,000. Or, put other ways, a trillion is a thousand billions or a million millions.

But, for fun, we’re going at the number in a slightly different way.

Because, in addition to “trillion” being in the news frequently, so is gold – that heavy, yellow precious metal whose price climbs as talk continues about “trillions.”

One troy ounce of gold in bar or ingot form, sometimes called a wafer, is 1 5/8 inches by 15/16 inch and 2mm thick.

If you placed these one troy ounce ingots end to end, it would take roughly 971 million to go around the earth’s circumference.

Now, let’s be generous (though it appears the price will be there soon) and say that one troy ounce of gold is $1240. That belt of gold, 15/16 inch wide and 2 mm thick, would equal $1.2 Trillion in value and weigh 30,198 metric tonnes or 33,288 US tons.

That’s a lot of gold!

From 2000 through 2008, the gold mining output ranged from just over 2400 metric tonnes to almost 2600 metric tonnes in a calendar year.

At 2600, it would take almost twelve years to pull 30,198 metric tonnes out of the ground.

That’s a lot of time.

Here’s a rhetorical question: do you think the people in politics and the people in finance have lost touch with reality and what $1 Trillion really means?