And all the investments in the stock market, real estate, cryptocurrencies, and gold; are they considered “money” as well? Let’s find out together. The other day, I was watching TV and this show came on… I’m sure all of you know it. Everyone has come across “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” at least once in their lifetime.
During the show, the host announced a question for the audience and anyone watching the show on TV. The way it works is people can send their answers through SMS and whoever wins gets to participate in the competition.
The question was, “How much money is there in the world?” Since I’m very enthusiastic about the financial markets, I thought why not give it a try? And so I started my research and got my calculator ready to personally estimate the total amount of money in the world using the most recent data available.
In short, if you only want to consider all the physical notes and coins in the world, US $11.4 trillion is estimated to exist across all countries and currencies as of January 2023. But the answer isn’t really that simple.
I knew that in order to get a chance to participate in the competition on live television and win the huge prize, I had to be more detailed with my answer.
I remembered this quote by the Irish poet Oscar Wilde, “When I was young, I used to think money was the most important thing in life. Now that I’m old, I know that it is.”
The quote made me wonder: if we divide all the money in the world between all people, how much would each person get? I knew this was merely a fantasy and would never happen, but I couldn’t stop my curiosity from finding the answers to these questions.
So let’s get started with the first step: to find out how much money is in the world, we first have to figure out how to categorize the different types of money there are.
Different stages of Money are typically classified as “M” s.They range from the narrowest M0 to the broadest M3, depending on the policy formulation of the country’s central bank.
For instance, the Federal Reserve System — the central bank of the United States of America —publishes the money supply data for the US. In order to understand the different money aggregates better, let’s first talk about how new money is created. In the most simple terms, new money can be created in two ways:
- In almost every country on earth, one of the ways new money can be born is through a central bank. Let’s say that David runs the central bank in your country.
He is really smart and pays close attention to your country’s economy. So if David feels that an increase in the money supply would benefit the economy, well, he can just make more money. It’s that easy! It doesn’t need to be printed as physical cash to be born.
The next step involves commercial banks like Bank of America and Citigroup. These are the banks that you and I use. All the central bank needs to do is buy some things (for example, precious metals like gold) from commercial banks using the money it just made. Now commercial banks have more money, or in other words, new money was created.
- There’s another way money can be born; it involves commercial banks and gets to the heart of our question.
If I go to the bank and deposit $5, the bank will gladly hold on to that money for me. I get to spend or withdraw that $5 whenever I want.
The thing is, legally, banks only need to reserve a fraction of the money they are given. This is known as Fractional Reserve Banking, which happens in almost every country.
It means that if someone else comes along, my friend Jake for example, and he wants to borrow $3, the bank can lend him the money from my $5. Now, whenever he wants, Jake can spend his $3.
But here’s the thing: Jake can spend $3, and I can spend $5 for a total of $8 despite the fact that there is only $5 in the bank. Thus, new money has been born. If you want to count all the spendable money in the world, we will need to include this type of money that fractional reserve banking creates.
Now that you know how new money is born, I’m going to define different money aggregates for you so you can understand how the total amount of money in the world can be calculated:
- M0: the total amount of physical cash (notes and coins) that exists on the entire planet. M0 is an aggregate of all coins and banknotes. The $11.4 trillion figure I stated earlier is the current global M0 value.
- M1: includes all the money in M0 plus money that people can access quickly – like money in your checking or instant savings account.
Since the usage of digital money (like credit or debit cards) is vastly increasing worldwide and hence decreasing the use of physical cash, the M1 money aggregate figure is almost 7 times bigger than M0. The current M1 figure is estimated to be equivalent to $76.5 trillion.
- M2: an even broader definition of money, which includes all the money in M1 plus money that you can’t necessarily spend right away or in other words, aren’t very liquid. For instance, savings accounts or Certificates of Deposits (CDs) under $100,000.
- M3: the broadest definition of money that includes all currencies (notes and coins), checking accounts, savings accounts, small CDs, and large long-time deposits. In other words, the M3 money aggregate is M2 plus large long-time deposits.
The Federal Reserve of the US doesn’t report M3 since 2006, as it doesn’t convey any additional information about economic activity that is not already embodied in M2.
These money aggregates are measured by the Federal Reserve Board in the US, but in other countries, it is done by their respective central banks. For instance, the European Central Bank (ECB) measures the money supply for different European countries. Now let’s find out the equivalent figures of each of these aggregates and, eventually, how much money is in the world.
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How Much Money is There in the World?
Now that you have understood the different money aggregates, this question becomes much easier to answer. I have calculated all the countries’ total money aggregates for you using the most recent references from December 2022.
Since I didn’t want to use outdated data, I personally calculated the money aggregates for you, which took a significant amount of time and energy. So stay with me as we finally get to the numbers!
Globally, M0 is estimated to be the equivalent of $11.4 trillion across all countries and currencies, according to most recent references. Let me show you how big that number is: $11,400,000,000,000.
That means if we were to divide M0 between every person in the world, each person would receive around $1,400. And that is just the aggregate of all the physical cash in the world.
According to most recent references, the next money aggregate, M1, is estimated to be the equivalent of $76.5 trillion globally. So if we were to divide M1 between every person in the world, each person would receive $9,500.
Across all countries and currencies, the M2 aggregate is estimated to be an equivalent of $130.5 trillion, according to most recent references. If this amount was to be divided between every person in the world, each one would receive around $16,000.
Finally, the broadest money aggregate, M3, is estimated to be an equivalent of $148.5 trillion globally, according to most recent references. If we were to divide this amount between all the people in the world, each person would receive around $18,500.
Now, you can quickly answer the question “How Much Money is in the World?” knowing the narrowest to broadest forms of money aggregates. I am currently waiting to hear from the competition’s team. If I get accepted I have to work really hard to increase my chances of winning the huge prize in the live competition.
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How much money is in circulation in the world?
Considering only the quickly accessible money, meaning physical cash plus checking accounts, $76.5 trillion is in circulation globally. This figure is also called the M1 money aggregate.
How much money is the world in debt?
The total world debt (public plus non-financial private debt stocks) declined 10 percentage points of GDP to 247 percent of GDP in 2021. This means the entire world debt is estimated to be $235 trillion.
How much money is there in the world per person?
If we take the broadest money aggregate (M3) and divide it by the current world population of 8 billion people, each person would receive around $18,500. This is with M3 valued at $148.5 trillion.
How much money in USD is there in the world?
If you want to know the total amount of money in the world in terms of USD, that is $148.5 trillion. And if you are looking for the total amount of USD in circulation globally, it is estimated to be $2.18 trillion.
By researching the most recent data available, we know that the money aggregate figures can lie between $11.4 to $148.5 trillion, depending on what kind of aggregate you are looking for, as of January 2023. So if you consider money as cash or cash equivalents, using the broadest form of money aggregates that even includes long-time deposits, there is $148.5 trillion in the world.
But even that figure still doesn’t include all the money or ‘value’ that exists in different forms. For instance, the cryptocurrency market is currently valued at $1.08 trillion according to CoinMarketCap, gold has a market cap of $12.4 trillion by itself, and the global stock market was last valued at $93.6 trillion.
According to Investopedia, there are 1.73 Trillion oil barrels in the global reserves. The price of $75 per barrel puts oil at a market capitalization of $129.75 trillion. Also, the value of all the world’s real estate was estimated to be an equivalent of $326.5 trillion in 2020 by Savills.
So as you may have realized, finding an accurate number for all the money in the world is extremely difficult– close to impossible. But anyway, this article has answered your curiosity, and this information might even be helpful to you someday; you never know. Thanks for staying till the end.