980: Money

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There, I showed you it.
Title text: There, I showed you it.

  • Clicking on the image on xkcd takes you to an interactive and much larger image. On the interactive image there are two links: one takes you to the sources and downloads page where a list of sources and the full image can be downloaded


I had a huge amount of fun putting the money chart together. It was the first time in a long time that my life’s been stable enough that I’ve been able to really disappear into a project—I’d almost forgotten how enjoyable it can be.

This is a chart comic - a type of comic that Randall does from time to time. He has for instance done maps of the Internet (twice!) and other huge visualizations like this chart Radiation with a similar structure as this chart but with Radiation as the subject. The Radiation chart is most likely the inspiration for this much more comprehensive Money chart.

In this money chart there are five boxes with items on different scales of monetary value denoting prices and values of many things, big and small (with the values contemporary to the comic's release in 2011; most are now more expensive due to inflation). Each scale of dollar increments are different colors. One dollar increments are green - naturally, because American paper money is green. Thousands are orange/red. Millions are gray. Billions are yellow. Trillions are blue. This comic uses the short scale for naming large numbers (so a billion = 1000 millions = 109 rather than a million millions = 1012 as in continental Europe).

Included in one frame is a small man with a red and white striped shirt, blue pants, a cane and a knit cap. He is known as Wally or Waldo (in the US) from the Where's Waldo? books. To not give anything away for those who wish to search for him themselves there will be no spoiler here. But if someone needs a little help... Then by clicking this link you will be directed to the relevant section amongst the five sections where Waldo can be found. (The link will take you to that section of the full transcript page). If you still cannot find him (or give up in advance) then just search the transcript page for Wally or Waldo. There is a unique header text for this comic.

The title text is a reference to the phrase "Show me the money!" which originates from the film Jerry Maguire.

Extra Money pages[edit]

Since this comic is so big and complicated, extra pages have been created to include much more information than is wished for on this main page. These pages are listed here for convenience, but they are also listed in the relevant sections below:

Tables with explanations[edit]


Top-left The price of various common bills and commodities. The One Dollar Menu is a type of menu at various fast food restaurants. The one dollar bill and ten dollar bill are likely used for reference points. A Starbucks coffee actually ranges in price from $1.95 to $2.15 depending on the location.
Middle-left Pet Ownership. The ASPCA is the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The most expensive animal on this list may seem surprising; rabbits cost an average of 35 dollars more than dogs and 70 dollars more than cats.
Bottom-right Four boxes indicate that the CEO pay has skyrocketed from $490.31 (hourly) to $5,419.97 (hourly) in the same time period in which the average worker's salary has grown 10 cents.


Top-right Hogwarts degree: a reference to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardy from the popular book series by J. K. Rowling about Harry Potter.

One box is the estimated yearly tuition for the school and the next is how much seven years at the school would cost. To get a degree at the school, it takes 7 years (starting at age 11, ending at age 18).

Bottom A reference to the song by Barenaked Ladies entitled "If I Had $1000000" and all the things referenced in the song to buy the love of another person.
Middle-Right A few items on the marriage of Kate Middleton and Prince William, the major royal wedding of 2011, including:
  • a wedding dress with its own Wikipedia page of 3 times the annual per capita income of the average UK person,
  • an 8-tier wedding cake,
  • and the flowers for the wedding. These re-appear in the Millions section of the graph, where they also list the costs for the security around the event ($20 million).


Left Dr. Evil's ransom demands from the film "Austin Powers" corrected for inflation between 1969 and 1997.
Middle-right Another reference to J. K. Rowling, comparing her (actual $1 billion) net worth as an author with her (imagined $82,000) net worth as a rapper.

The magnified 82 orange/red ($1,000) boxes are footnoted "Professional assessment by rapper/geek culture expert MC Frontalot." MC Front-A-Lot is the creator of the subgenre of hip-hop known as Nerd Core.

Middle An F-22 Raptor fighter jet (valued at $154.5M) is compared to a Velociraptor ($1.9M in production costs for the film Jurassic Park)


Top-Left ((Fictional)Billionaires section) Carlisle Cullen is from the Twilight series of books and movies. He is a vampire and adoptive father of Edward, Emmett and Alice Cullen, as well as Rosalie and Jasper Hale. He was born in the 1640s and amassed his wealth through many years of compound interest and investments. Scrooge McDuck is a cartoon character from many Disney properties including the afternoon cartoon, Duck Tales. Scrooge McDuck has a "money bin" full of coins and other sorts of collectibles that he routinely goes swimming in. Bruce Wayne is Batman. Batman is Bruce Wayne. He is portrayed in many comic books, graphic novels, TV shows and movies by many different actors. Artemis Fowl is an Irish child prodigy and a ruthless master criminal from the eponymous book series. He uses his intelligence to build his family fortune through crime.


As Randall already indicated in the transcript, this is the block for world, continent and nation finances. The numbers are really huge. There are no jokes in here (apart from the fact that Randall tried to make the shapes of the GDP look like the continent), likely because financial values this large aren't funny to start with.
GDP is gross domestic product, the market value of all goods and services produced in a nation.
  • The major chart in the center shows the development of the GDP in the world since the 1940s. So far the US GDP has always grown, except for a small reduction in the early 1980s, a flat line around the 1991 global recession and a flat line in the second half of the naughts. The world-wide GDP is growing more rapidly, but is also much more volatile.
In the middle of the box, it shows the worth of all gold ever mined in 2011 prices. This is important because of the concept of the gold standard, a concept where monetary values are linked to the value of gold. As indicated in the top-right of the box, both the EU and the USA have more debt than the total value of all gold in the world.
Derivatives are a complex financial instrument where one is not trading in something tangible, but in derived values - like options. Derivatives thus are dangerous as one trades in concepts instead of values. Critics claim that derivatives are at the base of the 'economic bubble'.
  • The growth of the derivatives market size is incredible - more than doubling every four years. The derivatives market thus is much larger than the GDP of the entire world.
  • We get a reference to a proposed project to power the world by erecting massive solar farms out in the deserts. The area of Texas alone would be enough to match almost all of our modern power costs (though the people who live in Texas wouldn't enjoy being displaced).


[This transcript is only reproducing text visible on the front page comic.]
[Title panel at the top left has one large heading, and then it is possible to read the first and third out of five lines (but not for instance the second line which is just the word "almost"):]
A chart of
all of it
[Below this there are 5 large panels, each with a series of plots, comparing the values of various things. The only clearly visible text is the title of each panel written in white on black background at the top of each panel]
[The first section covers single coffees up to the hourly salaries of CEOs. It is located below the title panel and there are a lot of green groups marked by unreadable text.]
[The next section discusses values from around $1000 to $1,000,000, including a dissection of the song If I had $1000000. It is located directly below the Dollars section and has mainly orange groups (but also some green) marked by unreadable text.]
[The third section focuses on $1,000,000 to $1,000,000,000, with a large section on campaign contributions of American political presidential campaigns, values of expensive works of art, and J. K. Rowling. It is located to the right of the Thousands section below the Billions section and there are a lot of gray groups (but also some orange) marked by unreadable text.]
[The fourth section gets into larger scale finances, profits of various sectors, costs of natural disasters, and net worths of the richest people on the planet. Also, Donald Trump. It is located to the right of the Dollars section and above both the Millions and Trillions section and has mainly yellow groups (but also some gray and red) all marked by unreadable text. There are, however, a few large headings that can be read:]
The Economic (...?)
US household income
Federal budget
[In the last panel global financial status is described. It discusses derivatives, liquid assets, public debt by nation and GDP by continent, culminating with the total economic production of the human race to date. It is located below the Billions section to the right of the Millions section and has mainly cyan groups (but also one yellow) all marked by unreadable text.]
[For the full transcript of the huge image see 980: Money/Transcript.]


  • xkcd usually posts at around midnight Eastern time the day of the comic, but this comic was posted at about noon. The reason is that it was difficult to get it all finished in time, as was explained in the Blag post titled Money chart released three days later. This post also states that this was the first big project he undertook after his fiancée was diagnosed with breast cancer.
  • This comic used to be available as a poster in the xkcd store before it was shut down.
  • Randall misspelled "communication" as "communcation" in the section on campaign donations.
  • This is the first xkcd comic featuring Donald Trump.

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"Show me the money" was popularised as a quote from Cuba Gooding Jr.'s character in Jerry McGuire with Tom Cruise. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Since 1950s the work of the production workers got largely automated, so there is a much lower skill requirement. The skilled jobs have largely moved to the post-industrial economy. 02:26, 23 January 2014 (UTC)

The typical annual housing cost looks like a vast underestimation (by approximately a factor of 2 or more). If not just cities but the whole metro areas are included, it looks closer to reality. 02:26, 23 January 2014 (UTC)

The year 2009 was a very pessimistic one for the evaluation of net worth, both stock and housing investments being down. By the year 2014 the stock had rebounded by a factor close to 2, and the housing had grown in price as well (by a lesser factor). A large portion older people's net worth would be kept in bonds which not only didn't lose value but even grew in value in 2009, which would account for the difference in the distribution. 02:26, 23 January 2014 (UTC)

The reason why the US state taxes are declared to be regressive on the chart is that a large part of them comes from taxing the consumption (sales tax, real estate tax, excise taxes on alcohol and tobacco, gasoline and vehicle taxes for road maintenance). The higher-income households invest a larger portion of their income instead of spending it on consumption. The actual state income tax rates are universally progressive. 02:26, 23 January 2014 (UTC)

A bunch of odds & ends: 1. In the J.K.Rowling reference in Millions, I think what's going on is that MC Frontalot claims that given how her career has gone, her net worth -is- the 1 billion dollars on the left, but if she had been a rapper, it -would be- the $82,000 on the right. 2. In the Book Publishing Industry box in Billions (bottom left), there's a figure of Waldo from the Where's Waldo book series. 3. In Billions, the Coca-Cola related box at top center refers to an ad from the late 1960s. The jingle was based on a then-popular song (I forget the artist), and included the lyrics:

   "I'd like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony,
   "I'd like to buy the world a Coke, and keep it company..."

4. In Billions, under the Coke box, is US State governments' spending. Randall has tried to imitate the states' shapes and relative positions. 5. In Billions, in the Individual Tax Deductions section (top center), one sort of deduction listed is Cafeteria Plans. This has nothing (at least, extremely little) to do with food. A cafeteria plan is a form of benefit offered by some corporations, in which employees can choose from a menu of benefits which ones they want. 09:55, 7 March 2014 (UTC) "Show me the money" is also a cheat code in Starcraft. Seebert (talk) 22:03, 9 June 2014 (UTC)

I tried to make a transcript. But Dgbrt did not like that? I have asked why on his talk page. I was planning to do some collapse of the transcript like in the themes for Lorenz. So it would not take up so much space. As the explain is now it is hopeless... Kynde (talk) 15:52, 11 June 2014 (UTC)

In my opinion that belongs to the explain section. The simple, but original, transcript is ok — any further details would shown up twice. The explain section is the right place for your nice adds. --Dgbrt (talk) 20:28, 11 June 2014 (UTC)
I have now moved the transcript out of the explanation. For the full transcript see 980: Money/Transcript (there is a link from the short - visible in small image only - transcript. So far the first two section, Dollars and Thousands are completed. But that was the easy part... So everyone feel free to help. There is an explanation on how I have designed it at the top. Once it is finished it would be possible to use it in the explanation by referring to the sections in this complete transcript.Kynde (talk) 22:25, 13 June 2014 (UTC)
Well I guess no one wished to join in, but at least I can take credit for making a complete transcript of this huge comic. Today I completed the last section I was missing, and it only took me 18 days to finish... I hope it can be used to build up a complete explanation by way of referring to this in the explanation. Please enjoy what amounts to 50 pages of A4 or almost 20.000 words (122.455 signs) Auuch :-) Kynde (talk) 20:49, 24 June 2014 (UTC)

Got a link? I used Google News BEFORE it was clickbait (talk) 12:46, 22 January 2015 (UTC)

The same vague incomplete tag has been on this comic since february, with more than 50 edits since. Kynde has done an great job with the transcript, and I'm not sure what is left for it to be marked complete. Either we mark complete, or we need to specify clearly what is remaining to do. --Pudder (talk) 15:48, 1 October 2014 (UTC)

Wow, Kynde has done a lot of work! If there's actually anything left, can someone say what it is? (Like Pudder was saying.)--Davak72 (talk) 02:57, 3 April 2015 (UTC)
Thanks guys. That means allot. Yes I think there is lot to say yet. But of course not on the transcript. I had fun making it, but it took a looong looong time. So I lost the wind after I finished it. But now I have linked to the transcript. And moved the Price tables to a new page. But there is almost now explanation for the individual items. And I found out how many interesting things there are in this comic. Maybe the tables on the main page should also have their own page, they could make reference to the transcript and then at least have some explanation for each minor section from the transcript. This will take a long time too. But my transcript will help allot. And for one thing no one has mentioned here that there is a Waldo from Where is Waldo. I have done this now ;-) Enjoy the search! --Kynde (talk) 09:41, 3 April 2015 (UTC)
Cool! Thanks Davak72 (talk) 15:33, 3 April 2015 (UTC)

Where's Star Wars? There's a category but... 00:12, 9 March 2018 (UTC)

Star Wars (meaning Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope) is in the Billions section, along the left edge, within the Box Office Revenue box, at 1977. Its revenue is listed as $1.681 billion, "adjusted for monetary inflation but not ticket price inflation," and by that measure is third overall in this list, behind Gone with the Wind ($3.157 billion, 1939) and Snow White ($2.8417 billion, 1937), and ahead of Avatar (2009) at $0.78351 billion. (You can also find these in the transcript, and in the tables.) I'm wondering if this only considers U.S. box office revenue, since, for example, Avatar earned over $2 billion worldwide at the box office? – Yfmcpxpj (talk) 15:44, 16 September 2020 (UTC)

Where is Eminem... He had a net worth of $131,541,684 at the time, definitely enough to qualify on the chart. Not to mention he is arguably more famous than anyone else on that list. ⟨Winter is coming⟩ Marethyu Tᵃˡᵏ 22:04, 9 May 2022 (UTC)