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:

  • It’s Time for the Federal Government to Embrace Wireless and Mobility

    The United States has turned a corner on the adoption of mobile phones, tablets and other smart devices, outpacing traditional desktop and laptop sales by a wide margin. This issue brief discusses the state of wireless and mobility in federal government and outlines why now is the time to embrace these technologies in government.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    Download
  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download

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