Ever wonder how much money there is in the world?
The answer is complicated, which you might expect, but not because of the difficulty of tallying up all the rather large numbers. Rather, it’s more about which parameters are used to define “money.”
“The amount of money that exists changes depending on how we define it. The more abstract definition of money we use, the higher the number is,” said Jeff Desjardins, an editor of Visual Capitalist, who put together an infographic to answer this question back in 2015 and recently updated it as money continues to take on a different meaning.
“Are the abstractions created by Central Banks really money? What about gold, bitcoins, or other hard assets?” he asks.
For purists, who believe “money” refers only to physical “narrow money” (bank notes, coins, and money deposited in savings or checking accounts), the total is somewhere around $36.8 trillion. If you’re looking at “broad money,” which isn’t just physical money and includes any money held in easily accessible accounts, the number is about $90.4 trillion.
But for those preferring an even broader interpretation, including bitcoin BTCUSD, +5.69% , ethereum and other cryptocurrencies, plus above-ground gold supply, and funds invested in various financial products like derivatives, the amount is in the quadrillions.
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This is what a quadrillion looks like written out: 1,000,000,000,000,000.
Funds invested in derivatives alone total at minimum $544 trillion, and the high-end estimate is $1.2 quadrillion. In fact, there is more money in derivatives than in all the stock markets combined, which is a comparatively paltry $73 trillion. The U.S. accounts for the biggest slice of that global market cap pie, thanks to companies like Apple Inc. AAPL, +1.03% , Alphabet Inc. GOOGL, +1.67% and Microsoft Corp MSFT, +1.73%
Investment in commercial real estate, often the most visible symbol of wealth, pales in comparison to stocks or derivatives at $29 trillion.
As for money owed by every single person and country in the world, the grand total is $215 trillion, with some 33% of it borrowed in the last decade.
And despite an explosive year for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, as an asset class, crypto clearly has a long way to go. The value of all bitcoin in circulation is estimated in this graphic at $100 billion (bitcoin’s market cap is now over $160 billion, according to CoinMarketCap). That’s a staggering rise from the tiny dot bitcoin represented on the 2015 version of this graphic… but, still, a proverbial drop in the bucket