How big is a billion?

Bonjour,

We are often talking about large numbers in financial news: AuM of $60bn, global debts of $100trn, this rich guy has a wealth of $20bn…

But do you know how big is a billion?

Let me tell you this story.

Imagine you are on your way to the office Monday morning, walking on the street.

As you walk, a random guy comes to you with $1,000 in notes in his hand.

This guy wants to give you these $1,000 for no reason.

As you refuse first, he comes back.

–          What is the catch, you ask?

–          There is no catch, take the cash.

As you continue to refuse, he keeps insisting and at last, you accept because you do not want to be late for work.

The following morning, the same guy turns up on your way to work. He is offering you another $1,000.

You start by refusing but your guard is a bit lower than the day before.

You are the recipient of another $1,000.

The exact same thing happens on Wednesday. Your resistance is slowly weakening.

By Thursday, you are starting to appreciate this guy. Imagine your grin on your face on Friday morning!

What do you want to tell us?

Is that French philosophy?

No, but imagine one thing: if you had met this guy every day since the start of the Christian era, you would still not have one billion dollars.

To conclude, I would say the following:

–          Billions are huge, and trillions are just massive. When the US prints $5trn to revive the economy, it is akin to receiving more than $2m every day from the random guy since Jesus appeared. Do you know how big a million is (just kidding)?

Have a good week and let me know if you know this random guy – I am interested in meeting him very regularly!

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