Talking NAMA, how much is a billion?

While we are all hearing about ‘a billion this’ and a ‘billion that’ for various financial institutions I would hope that we don’t lose sight of what a ‘billion’ actually is.

A billion seconds ago it was 1959
A billion minutes ago you could have spoken to Jesus… In person
A billion hours ago our ancestors in the stone age were eating raw meat and dying regularly of things like the common cold.
A billion days ago we were not bipedal.

So a billion is a big number, its a one with twelve zeros after it


If you earned the minimum wage of €8.65 it would take you over 13 million years of non stop work, day and night, seven days a week to earn a billion euro (pre tax).

We are getting shafted, it doesn’t feel good.


  1. Joe

    Karl – I think in Ireland / UK / USA you will find that a billion is a thousand million – ie 9 zeros not 12.

    Still a lot of money though !!

  2. Hi Joe and also @andyeire and @lisa_pereira

    I stand corrected on one hand and not on another, you see, a billion can be either the ‘long scale’ version (multiply a number by itself) or the short scale (where it is in increments of 000′).

    12 zeros is the long scale version which I mentioned and is in fact WRONG when dealing with the bailout figures which are all in the short scale amounts where 1 billion = 1,000,000,000

    The figures on timelines – seconds minutes etc. are all accurate using the short scale, then I diverged (and don’t remember why) to the long scale on the bit about earning the minimum wage. So my figures are both wrong and right, or right and wrong depending on which scale you apply.

    The main thing though, is that one way or another our banking bailout is VERY VERY expensive!

    Anyway, I am glad to see that I won’t get away with being anything less than entirely diligent on the sums, I appreciate ya dropping by and hope y’all come back soon!

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