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A Trillion Dollar Idea

Obama is thinking about minting a $1 trillion platinum coin if the Congress does not raise the debt limit. Most precious metal coins have an intrinsic value much greater than their face value. For example, a one ounce gold coin would contain approximately $1,500 worth of gold bullion, but would only have a legal tender face value of $50. However, to be fair, let’s say the $1 trillion coin would contain about $1 trillion worth of platinum.

First off, at a spot value today of $1,569 per oz of platinum, you’d need 637,348,629.7 ozs of platinum for the coin or, approximately, 39,834,289.35625 lbs or 19,917.144678125 tons. While we could stop here as the amount of platinum in the entire world would not get us to a fraction of that amount, the idea of minting the coin is in itself so ridiculous that we might as well carry on.

Now, platinum coins have the Statute of Liberty on the front. The actual Statue of Liberty weighs an estimated 225 tons (16oz = 1lb and 2,000lbs = 1 ton so (225 x 2,000) x 16 = 7,200,000 oz ). That means, rather than putting the Statute of Liberty on a new coin, you could make 88 full sized replicas of the statue instead of just the coin. You’d still have over 1,040 pounds of platinum left to make a bunch of souvenirs for the gift shop.

Okay, let’s say that you are still insisting on the one Trillion Dollar Coin.

If you want it to stay the same thickness, then the coin, at an area of 839.81841 square millimeters per 1 oz coin, a $1 trillion coin would cover a little over 1/2 a square kilometer (or about .2 square miles – enough to cover 80% of Disneyland in California truly making it the happiest place on earth). If you want to continue with the “liberty” analogy, it’s also enough for almost 5 Ellis Islands.

Okay, so that’s too big to fit in one’s pocket, so let’s keep it the same diameter, but we’ll make it thicker. A current 1 oz coin is 2.39 mm thick. That means you would need to make the coin 1,523,263,225.7 mm thick, or, 1,523.263 km thick. That is equal to 946.51 miles or, about the distance from New York City to Orlando, FL making it the happiest road to the happiest place on Earth. It’s also fitting that the idea of minting a $1 trillion platinum coin belongs better in Fantasy Land than on Wall Street.