Although gold has a bigger reputation today as a monetary metal, historically it was often deemed too valuable for everyday transactions. For the most part, common people in places like ancient Rome used silver to buy daily staples like grain or wine. As a result, silver has a strong reputation through monetary history as the “people’s money.”
Even today, silver is still much more widely accessible. With one ounce of gold being 70 times more expensive than an ounce of silver, it’s difficult for someone who is just starting to accumulate wealth to own gold.
What do savings and debt look like, using the “people’s money”? Below is everything from the average pay cheque to global sovereign debt visualized as silver cubes.
1. A median U.S. family brings in $2,355 per pay period (semi-monthly) pre-tax
2. However, the median American family only has about $5,000 of savings
3. The standard silver delivery bar holds 1,000 ounces of silver
4. Average household debt is $98,312, with mortgage debt being the primary component
5. A Lamborghini worth over $400,000 costs the equivalent of a silver cube with 16-inch (0.4-metre) sides
6. Using a silver price of about $18 an ounce, here’s what $1 million looks like
7. Every day, the world’s mines produce about 75 tonnes of silver, worth over $44 million
8. Silver Eagle sales have jumped considerably since the financial crisis
9. When the Hunt brothers tried to corner the silver market, they hoarded 200 million ounces
10. Today, almost 900 million ounces of silver is mined each year
11. JP Morgan’s market capitalization, in comparison to previous cubes
12. All silver ever mined would not compare to the Fed’s balance sheet, which is now $4.5 trillion
13. Global sovereign debt is 13 times bigger than all previous cubes combined
Liked our visualizations of silver cubes? Don’t forget to check out 11 stunning visualizations of gold.