Three ways to visualize how much money American taxpayers had to fork over for toxic assets:
1. Time is Money
Photo from Republic Domain
What if we convert US dollars into units of time? If a dollar was a minute- 700 billion minutes ago the year was 1,329,811 BC. A minute's not even that big, but you put 700 billion of them together and you've got enough time to go from cavemen to Mozart/supercomputers/manned space travel/(etc.). Just one billion minutes is enough to take us from Christ's time to the present. That's a lot of freaking money, and remember I'm assuming that a minute equals a dollar. Tell that to someone who makes minimum wage or someone working in the third world. If we monetized the value of their time and went backwards 700 billion dollars worth of it, God only knows how far back we'd end up (actually, I can figure it out really quick on my calculator, but we're moving on...).
2. Dollars as iPhones.
At 4.5 inches (h) x 2.4 inches (w), an iPhone covers 10.8 square inches of surface. With 700 billion iPhones, you could literally cover every inch of the entire state of Rhode Island and still have enough iPhones left over to give every man, woman, and child on this entire planet no less than 19 iPhones apiece. And that's assuming that every dollar were an iPhone. What if we bought $700 billion worth of them at $200 apiece (there are taxes to pay, but you'd get one hell of a bulk discount, so we'll keep the math easy and say $200)? You'd be able to buy 3,500,000,000 iPhones. That's still enough to buy over half the world's population a brand new iPhone. If dollars were songs, one iPhone for every single man, woman, and child in the USA would not quite be enough to hold 700 billion of them.
3. Dollars as Themselves
This is how a stack of nine million one dollar bills looks compared to a man of average height.
(source -check it out to see more examples)
This is how 630 billion (70 billion shy of what America got screwed for earlier this month) one dollar bills look (and yes, those tiny dots are the man and his car for comparison):
You can also see how it would look in pennies. That's a freaking lot of money. And it belonged to American taxpayers. And now it belongs to the monstrous government-financial complex that caused this mess in the first place.