recommended reading

How PayPal Almost Erased the National Debt and Ruined the Global Economy

Flickr user ebayink

A PR executive from Pennsylvania became the world's first quadrillionaire. The executive, Chris Reynolds, learned he was the richest man alive when he opened his June PayPal statement and found that he had been credited more than $92 quadrillion. We imagine it felt a lot like finding a $20 bill in the pocket of an old winter coat. Four quadrillion times.

Unfortunately for Reynolds, though, PayPal realized that it had made a mistake and quickly changed his balance back to zero. But Reynolds isn't the only one who lost out: so did America.

That's because Chris Reynolds, when asked by CNN what he would have done with his newfound wealth, said that he "would probably have paid down the national debt." The gross debt of the United States is now over $16 trillion. That's a pretty big number. But for Reynolds, it would've amounted to little more than pocket change. Think of it this way: Bill Gates is worth $67 billion. You could make 1,373,234 people as wealthy as Bill Gates with $92 quadrillion.

What would Reynolds have done with his remaining fortune? Buy the Philadelphia Phillies, he told the New York Daily News. Also, invest.

Although, of course, PayPal would've had something of a problem coming up with the money: According to the Federal Reserve, there is only $1.2 trillion in circulation at the moment. By the Federal Reserve's M2 measure—the broadest money aggregate the Fed tracks, which includes notes and coins in circulation, traveler's checks and nonbank notes, demand deposits, other checkable deposits, savings deposits, and time deposits—there was $10,598,100,000,000 out there in June 2013. That is still, obviously, way less than even $1 quadrillion.

So PayPal, and the whole global economy, dodged one hell of a bullet in being able to simply erase the accounting error. And the American debt can continue to grow another day.

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • Effective Ransomware Response

    This whitepaper provides an overview and understanding of ransomware and how to successfully combat it.

    Download
  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.