How much is $700 billion really worth?

The following text is originally lifted from The Jakarta Post dated Friday, 3 October 2008.


Shockwaves from the global credit crisis spread on Thursday, threatening industry and jobs worldwide and putting pressure on the U.S. Congress to pass a $700 billion bailout of the U.S. financial sector.

But how much is $700 billion - what can it buy? Compared to the debt of the United States, which the U.S. Treasury has asked to increase to $11.315 trillion to fund the plan, it doesn't seem much.

Here are a few things that can be done with $700 billion.

  • The United States has spent more than $800 billion on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001.
  • Just 12 Bill Gateses could foot the bailout bill. The Microsoft founder tops Forbes' U.S. rich list with a personal fortune estimated at $57 billion.
  • Collectively, the 400 richest Americans have a net worth of $1.57 trillion, or more than twice the value of the bailout.
  • $700 billion is roughly equal to the GDP of the Netherlands, or five times that of Pakistan.
  • It is only $100 billion short of the combined GDP of all of Africa.
  • It is only $78 billion more than the 2007 U.S. defence budget.
  • It would buy around 130 of the latest, biggest aircraft carriers, which cost about $5.3 billion each.
  • The plan could be funded with the market capitalisations of the world's two largest oil companies, ExxonMobil Corp and PetroChina, which stood at $403 billion and $325 billion respectively at Thursday's close of trading. There would even be $28 billion in change.

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