Money chart

I had a huge amount of fun putting the money chart together. It was the first time in a long time that my life’s been stable enough that I’ve been able to really disappear into a project—I’d almost forgotten how enjoyable it can be.

I’ve corrected a bunch of typos and other minor errors, most of which crept into the project during the final 36-hour no-sleep marathon to integrate all the pieces together. (Those corrections, plus a few more that will be added over the next few days, will all be integrated into the printed version).

Now it’s time for me to to spend some time relaxing with family, and trying to break the habit—trained into me by the research I did for the chart—of thinking of everything in economic terms. To those of you in the US (GDP: $15.18 trillion[1], total net worth: $58.73 trillion[2]), have a happy Thanksgiving!

249 replies on “Money chart”

  1. Cost to buy the amazon rainforest:
    130,000,000,000
    ($100/acre …)

    SIR, me as a brazilian, think that is racist that you even think as rainforest could be bought.

    Amazon rainforest it’s not all brazilian, and there are a lot of preservation parks.

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  2. For the next chart I nominate energy chart. So many awesome things could go in there.. Like how much energy is required to cook an egg, how much energy does NY spend, Energy consumption in the past, energy sources, how much energy human produces, energy required to reach low orbit.. etc etc..

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  3. I notice on the US income chart, there are a couple of provocative margin comments about the amount of money that needs to be left in the pool in order for everyone to have a certain income, and that there were details below. Um… where are those details? Is it merely the extra explanation under the “Required for a middle class income” heading, or is there a more in depth explanation that I’ve missed?

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  4. I want this on a shower curtain. My current shower curtain is a world map with all major cities & capitals labeled, plus the flag for every country across the bottom. I think the money chart is the only shower curtain that could possibly be better. So I guess I’m asking permission to have this printed on a shower curtain… cool? If not any plans to market such an item?

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  5. A concept beyond its time which hasn’t because the powers that be don’t want it to. This isn’t an accident. It’s called deliberate, intentional, a real way to get you thinking about the big picture. Continue to pay attention and give the author its due. One great idea always spawns a plethora of others.

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  6. That was freaking huge..but awesome. Thank you for sharing. Interested in seeing the final print copy.
    Also think this would make a great shower curtain or a big wall poster.

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  7. I love your posts that involve detailed research like this. You always make relationships so clear, PLUS you pick fun things to include. Thanks.

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  8. I loved this… And to the guy who said something is racist… I think it’s sad that you take the time to think it’s racist…

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  9. I bet you could buy the entire US Congress for a lot less than the rainforest, and by doing it we could alleviate a lot more environmental harm. Start by killing the grain-alcohol-for-fuel subsidy, a crazy idea which consumes more energy than it produces but has made the owners of Arthur Daniels Midland rich (I’ll bet we could track how much it cost them to enact!)

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  10. Regarding the new xkcd comic about mnemonics: You left out “domain” from the taxonomy mnemonics! We learned “Dumb Kids Play Catch Over Farmer’s Green Sections.”

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  11. You made a reference in the mouse-over text of today’s comic to Holling Clancy Holling’s “Paddle to the Sea.” This is full of win. That is all.

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  12. Hello Randall,

    Long time reader first time poster; I teach ESL English to students in elementary-through-high school in Korea, and I write to you to humbly ask that you consider donating a large print of your “Money Poster” to be gaped at by students at this academy in Goyang City.

    I have recently embarked on a campaign to de-uglify this academy which suffers from a near total lack of classroom amenities, outside of whiteboards, computer speakers, and a digital projector. I bought a few hundred dollars’ worth of classroom posters online recently (maps and “language tip” posters mostly, with some M.C. Escher prints mixed in) and I can say that the students behavior and attitude has changed noticeably since the walls were decorated; they act more like students when the room looks like a classroom. Still waiting to get paid back from my boss though. The posters also have the added benefit of disguising the graffiti which has been a constant scourge

    Aesthetically, the academy could be a lot better, though I enjoy the work and have a lot of fun acting as a foil against the constant barrage of standardized test preparation which characterizes nearly all of Korean education. I’m also the only native English speaker at the academy. While the other teachers focus on test-taking skills, it’s my charge to “humanize” and contextualize the English language for these kids, read a poem or two, and remind them that textbooks are not the source of knowledge (while including a healthy dose of Romance, sarcasm, math and language miscellanea). I’ve used your comics in class a few times, and they always go over well, and the older students at this school are usually good for an invigorating conversation about economics and various governments’ policies.

    I took a few shots of the classrooms before school one day if you’re interested, http://s1127.photobucket.com/albums/l626/TeacherNick/

    I hope you’ll consider mailing a print, and if you’d like, I’ll be glad to pay shipping to Korea.

    Matice Academy, Jun Bldg. 5F
    1145 – 1 Jungbalsandong
    Ilsan donggu, Gyunggi province, Goyang City
    South Korea
    Zip Code 410-829

    Thank you much,

    Nicolas

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  13. As soon as I saw this chart, my OCD did not allow me to navigate away until I read every last statistic. I hate you, and I love you.

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  14. Ditto on the “brands” – the Meijer chain in Michigan (& other states now) used packaging similar to that in the late ’80s or 90s. I don’t think I’ve seen any for several years, so maybe it didn’t work too well? Probably because they didn’t include “see our website (gopher node)” 🙂

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  15. I want a full size poster of this to pin onto cardboard so I can have the nerdiest sign at Occupy Denver.

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  16. re: #994, “Brand Identity”,
    In Canada, we already have these.
    It is called No Name (actually now a trademarked name).
    Every product is labelled in large, lower case black font (Helvetica) on yellow.

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  17. Very cool chart, but where in the world do you shop that four servings of beans and rice costs $9?

    You can get a bag of rice (10 servings) for just over $1 at Walmart. A can of beans ranges from $0.50 to $1.00, depending on the week, and has 3.5 servings. Even cheaper if you buy a bag and soak them overnight.

    So worst case scenario, you’re still only spending $3, and you’ll have a lot of food left over.

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  18. re: #994, “Brand Identity”,
    back in the day (twenty five years ago when i was a kid) that’s exactly how the supermarket brands were packaged. it was the “generic” packaging, and it didn’t work. the package was associated with inferior food, and NO body wanted to be seen with a bunch of those packages in their carts or house, cuz that just meant you were too poor for the “real” food.

    i doubt that the human psyche has changed enough in two decades for it to work now.

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  19. The brand thing of your december comic has been done in Sweden, it was the Coop-chain that invented blue-white brand. Everything was packed in simple white boxes, bottles or bags, and the name of the product was printed in white in a blue rectangle. Helvetica caps on. My first website was called “WEBSITE” 🙂

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  20. I ordered thrve been tryingee of the money charts. I can’t believe how fast they got here. Once again, great stuff! Now the grandchidren might have an inkling of what the hell I’ve been talking about. BTW get the larger version for classroom use. It’s worth the extra $

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  21. Great chart! I’m a long time fan of xkcd. Not sure if this has already been noticed, but there’s a slight error on the outstanding TARP figure, you’re missing a few zeros since it reads 141.44 million rather than what I believe you intended which would be 141.44 billion.

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  22. Apropos of absolutely nothing, yesterday after work I stopped at a supermarket to pick up some groceries, and in the parking lot I saw a man wearing a black porkpie hat.

    Needless to say I gave him wide berth and left in a hurry, lest I learn to my dismay that he was going to drive home on a stolen steamroller, or ride a saddled dinosaur.

    Dammit, man. You’ve given me a phobia of porkpie hats. Though I was also sort of wondering whether he’d do something awesome.

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  23. Are you a nerd? Do you support SOPA???

    Time for you to move registrar! (xkcd is on GoDaddy who support SOPA). Please join in the “move registrar” day on December 29th!

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  24. Good Sir,
    Your comic gives much joy to this (albeit at the moment highly inebriated) Linguistics/ASL major.
    Whilst skulking about in the bowels of the Torrey Life Sciences building in the University of Connecticut, I encountered a print of this, your “Money, and Where is it” comic outside the cave-like realm of one Nick McIntosh.
    I felt you should know that the brevity and wit that accompanies XKCD has thoroughly penetrated even the most terrifying confines of UCONN, where heavy barred doors marked “lobster storage” lurk ready to devour inattentive freshman.
    Ask not what a Ling major was doing in the Biology department, I fear I do not even know.

    And I profusly appologise for mispellings if they occur. Spend enough time with an IPA chart, and a bottle of CT Moonshine, and consonant clusters and prescriptive vowel usuage will elude you as well.

    I bid you, Good Night,
    RJ Yarrish

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  25. Absolutely brilliant. The only thing that I think could make it better would be to add a small portion for “all the money in the previous section,” as you did with your radiation chart.

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  26. The money chart was printed in a dutch newspaper today! 4 pages long with added text. I recognized it immediately.

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  27. yeah @Frank

    It was in a dutch news paper, they named the website and told that the webcomic was interesting etc. You should have a look at it. The news paper is called the “NRC Next”.

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  28. Thank you so much for this awesome work. The result is worth the amount of research and calculations. You’re definitely my favourite comics drawer ! Always unexpected, always awesome. My mondays, wednesdays and fridays are slightly better than other days thanks to you…
    Hello from France !

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  29. I hope you can make a chart only of U.S. income distribution. The rest of the chart is also very interesting, but the distribution part is essential to me. The pre-tax average and median household incomes are $89,914 and $49,445, respectively. The post-tax average and median household incomes are $63,849 and $36,935, respectively. (I’m using tax figures from Citizens for Tax Justice report All Americans Pay Taxes) I am confused where your chart says “Amount to give everyone an income over $250,000. With a work force of 154 million, or 118 million households, the average is much lower than $250,000. The occupy movement is mostly founded on inequality, both income and wealth inequality, and also a lousy job market for young people. Since 1979 the top 1% has increased its share of the national personal income (post-tax and post-transfer) from 8% to 17% per the Congressional Budget Office report Trends in Household Income Distribution 1979 to 2007. Maybe that’s the report you used in your document. The average income (post-tax) is 72% higher than the median. Not good. Very unequal. The Gini coefficient is high, it’s 48 according to the CBO report, but as a measure the Gini is not as graphic as this chart. A chart of wealth inequality would also be interesting to look at, as you say, $58 trillion in wealth. That’s what I’ve seen also. All this is Very cool — thanks. My blog, http://benL8.blogspot.com, I’m going to send this chart to toomuchonline.org and some other organizations interested in the topic.

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  30. Hi xkcd!

    First of all, you’re awesome.

    Second, quick question – what tool did you use to host the image? I.e. an image so big and you can zoom around. I find myself in the position of needing to scan and upload a huge piece of chart paper, any suggestions?

    Thanks!

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  31. A bit belated, but I wanted to let you know that this graphic was the foundation of my economics unit for my 6th and 7th graders. They were fascinated, and it was amazing to see the lights turn on in their heads when they finally seemed to realize how much things cost and where money goes. Thank you so much for demystifying the concept of money for my students!

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  32. Thanks for making the chart. It is very interesting, and I realize it must have taken quite a bit of effort.

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