How Big Is Two Trillion?

Are these numbers incomprehensibly big or what?

Ed Newman
2 min readMar 25, 2020


Photo by The New York Public Library on Unsplash

Congress has apparently assembled its response to bail out the economy, an economy that stands hunched over like Atlas with the world on his shoulders. The price tag is two trillion dollars.

When I heard this, I couldn’t sleep. I’d just written a blog post a couple months back about how much one trillion dollars is. Here’s what I was thinking that kept me awake.

The earth is 25,000 miles in circumference. So, I imagined the following “what if” scenario. If you had a superjet that could travel 25,000 miles an hour, it would take one hour to fly around the world. It would take four hours to fly around the world four times which would be 100,000 miles.

Now assuming this jet never stopped to refuel or change pilots or whatever here is what we would see.

4 hours = 100,000 miles
40 hours = 1,000,000 miles (1 million miles)
400 hours =10 million miles
4000 hours = 100 million miles
40,000 hours = 1000 million miles (1 billion miles)
400,000 hours = 10 billion miles
4,000,000 hours = 100 billion miles
40,000,000 hours = 1 trillion miles

Which means it will take 80,000,000 trips around the world to reach 2 trillion miles.

80 million divided by 24 hours in a day = 3,333,333 days of flying around the world to reach 2 trillion miles, or… 9,132 years.

Let’s try a different angle. How fast can a printer print 2 trillion dollars?
To print $25,000 an hour means they’d only have to print 417 hundred dollar bills a minute or 7 one-hundred dollar bills a second.

At that rate one printer running non-stop for 9,132 years without a break for maintenance could actually accomplish this.

Or ten printers running 24/7 for 913 years.

Or 100 printers running 24/7 for just over 91 years.

Or 1000 printers running 24/7 for just over 9 years.

Now when you look at it that way…. hmmm. Maybe we can do this?

Somehow I don’t find it all that comforting.

How much is the national debt right now? According to this National Debt Clock it’s somewhere between 23 trillion and 123 trillion. As we did with the slavery issue when our country was founded, I suppose we’re passing it on to the next generation to resolve.

Sorry kids.




Ed Newman

An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon