A trillion here, a trillion there – The Property Chronicle
Select your region of interest:

Real estate, alternative real assets and other diversions

A trillion here, a trillion there

The Professor

The late Everett Dirksen, a long-serving Minority Leader of the Republicans in the US Senate, is famously quoted as saying a billion here, a billion there, and soon we’re talking real money. That was back in 1969. At the time, a billion dollars was about one-tenth of 1% of GDP.

What about today? During 2020, the federal government provided a total of $3.2tn of covid relief, starting with a mere $8.3bn, then adding $104bn, then adding $2.2tn, and finishing off the year with another $900bn.

We’re now three months into 2021, and the federal government has provided yet another $1.9tn in covid relief; and the Biden administration has just asked for $2tn for infrastructure. To put these amounts into perspective: a trillion dollars is today about 4% of GDP.

Back in 1969, Ol’ Everett was being funny when he referred to a billion dollars. Back then, a billion dollars was already real money. In 1969, the newest nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the USS Enterprise, cost $451m, not even $1bn. The cost of the Apollo 11 mission to put the first man on the moon was $335m, not even $1bn. Only two companies made more than $1bn in profits (General Motors $1.7bn and Exxon Mobil $1.3bn). A billion dollars, representing one-tenth of 1% of GDP, was a fantastic amount of money. Ol’ Everett’s statement that a billion here and a billion there and soon we’re talking real money was a wild understatement.

Back in 1969, two companies made more than a billion dollars. Today, no company makes anywhere near a trillion dollars

And, now, we’ve gone from thinking of spending money at a clip of one-tenth of 1% of GDP to thinking of spending money at a clip of 4% of GDP, as though 4% of GDP isn’t already real money.






The Professor

About Clifford F. Thies

Clifford F. Thies is a Professor of Economics and Finance at Shenandoah University. He is the author, co-author, contributor and editor of more than a hundred books, encyclopaedia entries and articles in scholarly journals. He is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Private Enterprise and is a former Bradley Resident Scholar at the Heritage Foundation. He is a past president of the faculty senates of Shenandoah University and the University of Baltimore. He also served in the US Army and the Army Reserve.

Articles by Clifford F. Thies

Subscribe to our magazine now!

SUBSCRIBE