Mental Floss

All the Money on Earth, in One (Giant) Visual

Shaunacy Ferro

Large sums of money can be hard visualize. What does it really mean that Uber is valued at $51 billion? What does it mean that Apple, the world’s most valuable company, is worth more than $600 billion? That’s an unfathomable sum of money for most of us. It’s easier to compare that kind of money with all the money in the world than it is to compare it to the money in your wallet.

The Money Project tries to demystify where the world keeps its money in a chart that encompasses all the world’s cash and markets. One square represents $100 billion in most but not all of the markets shown—all the Bitcoin in the world is only worth $5 billion, and the silver market is only worth around $14 billion, so their squares are illustrated smaller on the graphic. Even one of the richest people in the world, Bill Gates, doesn't quite get a normal-sized square with his measly fortune of $79.2 billion.

The section of the chart above visualizes the value of five multi-billion-dollar companies, the Federal Reserve balance sheet (the central bank’s assets and liabilities), and all the world’s coins and banknotes. Apple is worth nearly a tenth of the value of all the cash in the world (roughly—this chart lists the company’s worth at $616 billion, while a December 2015 estimate put it at closer to $605 billion). And that pales in comparison to the amount of money—$630 trillion—that’s held in derivatives (contracts that are valued based on the performance of certain indexes or other assets).

As you might expect, it’s a little overwhelming. See the image a little bigger here.