2: What if you took all of the Earth's monetary resources and turned them into copper pennies?
- 1 What if you took all of the Earth's monetary resources and turned them into copper pennies? (Keep in mind that it takes more money to make the money than the money is worth.) How much copper would the world be short?
- 2 Short Answer
- 3 Long Answer
- 4 Conclusion
What if you took all of the Earth's monetary resources and turned them into copper pennies? (Keep in mind that it takes more money to make the money than the money is worth.) How much copper would the world be short?
Question by Cprossu. Calculations by coxj2000, and support from Peng, IceKarma, and others. Bucket may actually have proved useful for this but we didn't think to use him. Illustrations by coxj2000 unless otherwise specified. Values in US Dollars and metric units.
There's a lot of money in the world. When searching for answers, we had trouble determining how much money is actually out there, and determining exactly what counts as money. For our (horribly painstaking) calculations, we used estimates of gross world product (GWP; $75 trillion), debt as of January 24 ($55 trillion), and the M2 money supply estimate as of 2013 ($10.5 trillion).
It would take a lot of pennies to do all of this (from between 1.05 quadrillion and 7.5 quadrillion). Assuming a pure copper composition, each penny would be made of 3.96 grams of copper. Using the M2 estimate, we'd need a mere 4.2 gigatons of copper (4.158*10^15 grams, if you were wondering). Though these pennies would amount to only $10.5 trillion, the copper itself would be worth about $24 trillion. Using world debt, we would need 21.78 gigatons of copper worth $128 trillion to make the 5.5 quadrillion pennies required to amount to $55 million. The money required to make 7.5 quadrillion pennies (75 trillion dollars worth) would be even more extreme, coming in at over $174 trillion. If this copper were in a cubic shape, the two biggest cubes would rival Mount Everest in height, and all would easily rival the great mountain in volume.
This is a lot of copper. These cubes are comparable in size to Asteroid 4942 Munroe (likely more massive), and if moved into a weightless environment, you'd notice a small gravitational pull from them. It is estimated that there are 100,000 gigatons of copper on Earth, so there is enough copper on Earth to do this, though it would require a drastic increase in mining efforts and likely copper rationing (or even confiscation) by major governments. By now, this is starting to sound like the Gold Standard, which may have caused the Great Depression. Needless to say, devoting resources to making quadrillions of pennies, especially of copper, is a truly idiotic idea. Though copper-plated zinc pennies (like those currently minted in the US) would be cheaper, it would still be very expensive, as pennies are worth more in metal than they are in money. There's also the issue of humanity's tendency to go to war over resources.
This is why people want to nix the penny, while there's still time.