One of the most difficult things you encounter when discussing the bailouts is getting people to understand concepts of enormity that are literally beyond comprehension. “Trillion” is one of those concepts.
Jess Bachman, who did some of the fantastic charts and graphics in Bailout Nation, helped to create this animation (for mint.com) to explain what a trillion dollars is:
It’s official, trillion is the new billion. No longer is government spending talked about in terms of a mere ten digits. With the recent flurry of government spending, we are going to need another three zeros to make sense of it all. One trillion dollars is a number that few people can comprehend, let alone your standard nine digit calculator. So what does one trillion dollars look like?