Gold and Debt: Astonishing Comparisons

Debt and budgets in the trillions of dollars and euros are difficult to comprehend.  The US budget is nearly $4 Trillion per year while the US official national debt exceeds $18 Trillion.  A single large bank may hold contracts for more than $50 Trillion in derivative contracts.  Global debt is approximately $200 Trillion.

Let’s relate those numbers to gold prices, gold mined each year, and gold mined throughout history.

  • According to McKinsey & Company total global debt as of December 2014 was about $200 Trillion. Although the exact amount of mined gold is unknown, assume that 172,000 metric tons of gold have been mined throughout history.  At 32,151 (troy) ounces per metric ton, that calculates to about 5.5 billion ounces of gold.  If that gold backed the debt at 100%, each ounce of gold would back $36,000 in debt.
  • According to McKinsey & Company, the global debt has increased by about $57 Trillion in the last seven years. In round numbers 3,000 metric tons of gold are mined each year.  The debt increase in the last seven years would equate to gold mined in those seven years at nearly $85,000 per ounce.
  • Official United States national debt increased in the last ten years by about $10.5 Trillion. Assuming the US mines about 200 metric tons of gold per year, the US added approximately $160,000 in debt per ounce of gold mined in the US.
  • Many people watched the super bowl earlier this month. To indicate how little gold exists in the world, imagine a layer of gold covering the football field, which is 360 feet by 160 feet.  That layer of gold would be about 6.5 feet high, about the height of a lineman, and would be all the gold mined throughout history.  If it were a cube it would be about 72 feet high, wide, and deep.  For a soccer (futbol) field the sheet of gold would be a few centimeters thinner than two meters.
  • The US government will spend approximately $4 Trillion this year. Assuming the United States still has the 260,000,000 ounces of gold that it claims – which has not been audited in about 60 years – that means the government spends the equivalent of its entire (supposed) hoard of gold (at $1,200 per ounce) in less than 30 days.



  1. If all the gold ever mined were used to back global debt, each ounce of gold would back about $36,000 in debt.
  2. But if we look at only the increase in global debt in the past seven years and compare to the gold mined during that time, the number increases to about $85,000 in debt per ounce of gold.
  3. For the United States over the past decade, official debt increased at about $160,000 for every ounce of gold mined in the US.
  4. All the gold ever mined in history would fit on a football or soccer field and rise to a height of about six feet. Clearly there has been little gold mined in the past 10,000 years because it is so rare.
  5. US government expenses are so large that the government spends the equivalent of its entire (official) gold hoard, at current prices, every 30 days.
  6. Gold is rare and much too inexpensive compared to the $ trillions of debt created each year.
  7. Gold prices will rise or the amount of debt in the world will seriously contract. Bet on rising gold prices.


Gary Christenson

The Deviant Investor


25 thoughts on “Gold and Debt: Astonishing Comparisons

  1. Oh I have no doubt China will come out with a winning hand of cards. Its just a matter of time. They know what precious metals are. Most Americans even if they could identify precious metals would not know what to do with them. On the street people don’t even want to buy a $1000 plus gold coin for $20 they are that far out of touch.

  2. I save in Silver for my future. My kids future. One day Silver will pay or buy. I may reap or my kids or grand kids. I hope they are smart with it.
    One day down the track my family will say – well thanks to ol’ grand a d clambake or they’ll say – that crazy ol’ coot clambake.
    Either way i win.

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