Japan’s ‘quadrillion’ feat

The age of the quadrillion is finally here.

After years of being stuck in millions, billions, trillions and other terms that usually come up short of twelve zeros, Japan has broken out, with its debt crossing the magical 15 zero barrier.

Japan’s public debt exceeded 1 quadrillion yen — or 1,000 trillion yen ($10.39 trillion) — for the first time in June, Finance Ministry data showed last week.

Those are eye-popping sums even if you consider that a dollar fetches 96 yen today and the U.S. has a much higher public debt burden in dollar terms.

That is twice the sum of all goods and services produced by the country in a year, or GDP. It also means if every Japanese citizen were to try to pay it off, they would have to shell out at least 7,895,172 yen.

The usage of these mind-boggling numbers has increased ever since the financial crisis of 2008 prompted major central banks to print money to support their economies, through quantitative easing.

ECB rides to banks’ rescue with cash flood

Just a week after warning that euro zone banks will probably have to write off another $280 billion in bad loans and toxic assets over the next 18 months, the European Central Bank has ridden to their rescue by pouring more than double that amount into bank coffers at a bargain-basement rate of just 1 percent.

More than a thousand banks rushed to take up the ECB’s limited-time-only offer of unlimited funds for one year at a fixed interest rate, and will receive a total of 442 billion euros, or $613 billion – the most the ECB has ever lent out in a single operation. 

“We are drowning in money,” a trader at one euro-zone bank said. Goldman Sachs estimated the funds equate to 1,300 euros per man, woman and child in the 16-nation region. 

from Global Investing:

Explaining the credit crisis

Los Angeles-based designer Jonathan Jarvis has created a great animated video explaining the credit crisis, produced as his part of his thesis at the Art Center College of Design:

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

If you prefer your explainers audio-only, you can't go wrong with "The Giant Pool of Money" and "Bad Bank," from Alex Blumberg and Adam Davidson of Planet Money.