When presented with stupefying numbers, it’s sometimes fun, and usually cathartic, to boil them down into more tangible figures, give them household values and nod our heads in wonder. Late last week, when word that AIG’s quarterly loss would come in at $60 billion or thereabouts, we started hitting the division key just to make ourselves feel better. Turns out, AIG lost $61.7 billion, but what’s another $1.7 billion when taxpayers are working up a $1 trillion borrowing spree?
AIG’s loss per day in the fourth quarter was $670.2 million. That’s a $27.9 million hourly loss. Divide again and again and you get $465,000 per minute and $7,750 a second. Though not really a GAAP measurement, assume for a moment that at rest a standard human breath takes about two seconds. So AIG’s quarterly loss was about $15,000 per life-giving gulp of air.
The heart of a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, the most common species of Hummingbird in the eastern half of North America, beats 250 times per minute at rest, so that’d be $1,860 per Hummingbird heartbeat of quarterly losses for AIG. When it’s feeding, the hummingbird’s heart beat races up towards 1,200 or more beats per second, deflating the value of each itty bitty beat down to around $274.
The $30.9 billion net loss GM reported for all of 2008 comes out to $84.7 million per day, or 1,085 top-end Hybrid Cadillac Escalades at today’s low low price of $77,000. It would have paid to be green, though, because the loss would only have bought 21.2 million gallons of gasoline at the $4 per gallon, or about 5.6 percent of what American’s consume in a day.
And one more for the record books, the 1.87 billion shares of Citigroup traded on the NYSE on Friday, a day when the stock fell 39 percent, appears to have set a new record for number of shares traded on a single stock in one day, beating out WorldCom’s 1.51 billion on a bleak day for that long-gone company back in 2002.