980: Money

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

As usual, click the date above the comic to go to the xkcd page, and there is a link to the much larger (Google Maps-like) version. Go find something interesting, don't worry, the wiki will still be here.


Ambox notice.png This explanation may be incomplete or incorrect: 980: Money
If you can address this issue, please edit the page! Thanks.

Well, that's why this one is late. It is MASSIVE. This is another chart that Randall does for xkcd from time to time. He has done maps of the Internet (twice) and other huge visualizations.

Dollar increments are different colors. 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.

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.

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

  • Middle-left: Pet Ownership. The ASPCA is the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
  • 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 skyrocketed 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:
    • 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).
  • Middle-right: another reference to JK Rowling, in this case it is MC Front-A-Lot (The creator of the subgenre of hip-hop known as "Nerd Core") who estimated her net worth at $1 billion. But, that begs the question, why do the boxes only add up to $82,000?

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 1980's, a flat line around the 1991 global recession and a flat line in the second half of the naugths. 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 derivates market thus is much larger than the GDP of the entire world.


  • 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
  • Each amount has a source at http://xkcd.com/980/sources/ In the dollars section there is a statement that at every possible opportunity Randall used a scholarly work or government publication.



all of it

(this transcription is only reproducing text visible on the front page comic. There are 5 large panels, each with a series of plots, comparing the values of various things.)

  • Dollars
    • (This section covers single coffees up to the hourly salaries of CEOs)
  • Thousands
    • (This section discusses values from around $1000 to $1000000, including a dissection of the song If I had $1000000)
  • Millions
    • (This section focuses on $1000,000 to $1000,000,000, with a large section on campaign contributions of American political presidential campaigns, values of expensive works of art, and J. K. Rowling.)
  • Billions
    • (This 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.)
  • Trillions
    • (Global financial status is described here. 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.)

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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)