A few weeks ago, and in response to continuously growing debt levels, our friend Peter K. sent the Mountain Vision team a little quiz on debt. He suggested that, in order to make the current debt numbers more meaningful, we should answer the following question:

If a printing machine were to print one, 100 US dollar note and one, 100 Euro note every second, day and night, Saturdays and Sundays, without interruption, how long would it take to print the current level of debt of America and Germany?

By the way, Peter calculated the result on the basis of the debt numbers as of February 4th, 2014: USA: US$ 18‘126‘251‘000‘000;  Germany: € 2‘132‘899‘400‘000 

Give it a try. What is your estimate? This might of course be considered a somewhat esoteric exercise. Yet, it is still impressive, and a bit daunting…

1 minute = 60 seconds / 1 hour = 60 minutes / 1 day = 24 hours / 1 year = 365 days / therefore, per year, there are 31‘536‘000 seconds, or notes.

USA:  18‘126‘251‘000‘000: 31‘536‘000: 100 (notes of $100) = 5‘747 years, or 67 human lives (assuming 85 year average life expectancy).  

Germany:  2‘132‘899‘400‘000: 31‘536‘600: 100 (notes of €100) = 676 years, or 8 human lives (assuming 85 year average life expectancy). 

Source: Infographic, United States Debt as a percentage of GDP

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