Monday, March 19, 2007

a trillion here and a trillion there

It was not so long ago that a "trillion" had no more real meaning than the a "gazillion" did. It was a word that you used to express the infinite. No one, outside of maybe a few astronomers, gave the number any real meaning. all that has changed over the past few years. Trillion now means something in the world and the latest thing that it means is that those Chinese are getting rich.

It is reliably reported that China is going to have a one trillion dollar budgert surplus this year. Now, if you are like me, and got no further than high school geometry, and took that three times, you are not quite sure of the purchasing power of a trillion dollars and so you don't know what exactly what options the Chinese have for their trillion dollars.

First, how much is a trillion ? Hell, how much is a billion ? If you start counting, and count one number a second, it would take you about 90 years of eight hour days to get to a billion. Well, a trillion is a thousand times a billion, so it would take a person, counting one number a second for eight hor days,90,000 years to count to a billion. Imagine some one having that much extra cash. China does. Of course, when you have a country with 1.3 billion people (how do they count them for the census, it would take forever) that's less than $700 a person to hand out. Now the dollar goes a lot further in China, but it still takes more than that to live.

They could invest it, but in what ? they already have almost $400 billion in US Treasury Securities. I guess they could drop it in some mutual funds. What they are probably going to do with it is keep building. You can probably buld a Nuclear Power Plant for about $2-3 billion in China. If they built 500 or so they could electrify all of china, although I don't know if they would have enough plutonium to keep the plants going. They can build dams, skyscrappers, rockets to the moon, pretty much anything they want. What they won't do with it is go to war with it. It has been a long time since China had a war with anyone. That's how you get trillion dollar surpluses. You stay out of wars. I notice that we are running a little defecit over in this country because we have not learned what the Chinese have learned about saving money. On the other hand, your average Chinese does not live the life style even the most modest of our working citizens here has. So I guess it is a "grass is always greener thing". At any rate, a trillion dollars is a lot, no matter how you slice it. If I was running China, I'd get a billion people to all count to a thousand at the same time. That would get you to a trillion pretty quick and would be a fun thing to do.I'd put it on TV so that the whole world could see what you can do if you don't kill Middle Easterners as a hobby.


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