How Big is Money?

How BIG is Currency?

With the advent of online payment systems and the rise of debit cards, physical currency may seem like a relic of a bygone era. But right now, there’s still a lot of it going around.

Let’s examine how the total amount of United States, Euro, Yen, and total worldwide currency actually looks. Spoiler alert: it’s big.

The Dollar

The United States dollar is the world's most traded currency, with 1.61 trillion dollars circulating in coinage and notes.1, 2

So, how big is a dollar?

Stacked together, the 39.8 billion notes currently in circulation would take up 1.8 million cubic feet of space.5, 6

That amount of currency would fill 20 Olympic-sized swimming pools...7

...and would overflow the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool in the US Capital.7

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The Euro

The euro is the second most popular traded currency in the world, and the most popular in Europe.8

There are 82.3 billion €50 notes in circulation.

So, how big is the Euro? At 16.5 square inches each, all the €50 notes could completely cover New York City...

or the city of Indianapolis...

...or blanket the entire landscape of Badlands National Park. 11-13

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The Yen

The Japanese yen is third most traded currency in the world, and the most popular in Asia.14

So, how big is the yen?

There are 12.4 million ¥1 coins in circulation. Stacked on top of each other, that many coins could line the Las Vegas strip two times... 17, 18

could climb Mt. Everest almost twice...18

...and that same stack of coins could run the Preakness Stakes race eight times. 18

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Total Worldwide

There is a name for the total value of worldwide currency stuffed into pockets, lost in couch cushions, and stored in bank vaults. Economists call it "M0." 19

The M0 for the entire planet hovers around $5 trillion. Let's see what that looks like. 20

Turns out that $5 trillion, or M0, takes up a lot of space. But we have to do a bit of abstracting to properly visualize it.

Let's assume that $5 trillion comes to us in $100 bills.

That M0 stack of bills would weigh twice as much as the Statue of Liberty. 21

Spread out, those bills would cover the entire Grand Canyon... 22

...and laid end-to-end, that M0 measure of $100 bills would circle all of planet Earth 194 times. 23

Now that's a lot of dough.

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Sources

  1. Currency Exchange International Corp., 2018
  2. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 2018
  3. United States Mint, 2018
  4. Wikipedia.org, 2018
  5. Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, 2018
  6. Quara.com, 2018
  7. Bluebulbprojects.com, The Measure of Things, 2018
  8. Currency Exchange International Corp., 2018
  9. Wikipedia.org, 2018
  10. Wikipedia.org, 2018
  11. Statista.com, 2018
  1. Wikipedia.org, 2018. Badlands National Park is in South Dakota.
  2. Bluebulbprojects.com, The Measure of Things, 2018
  3. Currency Exchange International Corp., 2018
  4. Wikipedia.org, 2018
  5. Wikipedia.org, 2018
  6. Bank of Japan, 2018
  7. Bluebulbprojects.com, The Measure of Things, 2018
  8. Marketplace.org, 2018
  9. Business Insider Inc., 2018
  10. Bluebulbprojects.com, The Measure of Things, 2018
  11. Bluebulbprojects.com, The Measure of Things, 2018
  12. Wikipedia.org, 2018
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