Title text: There, I showed you it.
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.
Note: Clicking on the image on xkcd (click the date above the comic to go to the comic on xkcd) takes you to an interactive and much 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 can be downloaded (DataDump.csv).
Also the full image can be downloaded here (it is a PNG of considerable size: 12528x8352 pixels).
This is one of the comics that can be bought as a poster on xkcd and the other link takes you there.
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 the chart there are five boxes with items on different scales of monetary value. 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).
Because the comic is so huge and complex the explanation has been split into several parts and also individual pages:
- Below are five tables with explanation for some of the items.
- The transcript is (as is usually the case with huge comics) only given for the text that is visible on the picture shown here above.
- However the full transcript for all the text in the huge image has also been completed.
- Finally some tables with prices has been made (although they are not yet complete).
In the Billions box there is a vague term called the "Economic Vortex" as well as arrows that flow between different blocks of this box. This is to show where the money goes. Where it is collected from, and where it is distributed to.
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.
The title text is a reference to the phrase "Show me the money!" which originates from the film Jerry Maguire.
- [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 comics are usually posted at, or around, midnight Eastern time the day of the comic (Monday, Wednesday, Friday). This one was posted at about noon on Monday
- Most of the amounts has a source at XKCDS. In the dollars section there is an important note that at every possible opportunity Randall used a scholarly work or government publication as a source.
- A print version of this comic is available in the xkcd store.
- Randall misspelled "communication" as "communcation" in the section on campaign donations.
- There is a unique header text for this comic.
Tables with explanations
|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 Bare Naked Ladies entitled "If I Had $1000000" and all the things referenced in the song to buy the love of another person.|
|Bottom||A few items on the marriage of Kate Middleton and Prince William, the major royal wedding of 2011, including:
|Left||Dr. Evil's ransom demands from the film "Austin Powers" corrected for inflation between 1969 and 1997.|
|Middle-right||Another reference to JK 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.
|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'.
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