Although gold has a bigger reputation today as a monetary metal, it was often deemed too valuable for everyday transactions throughout history.
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 70x 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 paycheck 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 oz of silver.
4. Average household debt is $98,312, with mortgage debt being the primary component.
5. A Lamborghini worth over $400,000 needs a silver cube with 16-inch (0.4m) sides.
6. Using a silver price of about $18/oz, 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 oz.
10. Today, almost 900 million oz 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 13X bigger than all previous cubes combined.
The Money Project is an ongoing collaboration between Visual Capitalist and Texas Precious Metals that seeks to use intuitive visualizations to explore the origins, nature, and use of money.