It’s beginning to look like trillions are the new billions.
You know, as when fashionistas say, “black is the new white.” Or, “pink is the new black.” Or, as the Times led with a story this morning, “The bag is the new hat.”
Somewhere along the road to Oz, a billion dollars lost the allure that it once had (not that I would sneeze at it!), and lost the sheen that it conferred on someone who managed to be worth a billion. With a mere billion you might not even be able to make the Forbes annual list of the world’s wealthiest people any more. Let’s have some empathy here, folks.
It doesn’t take much to get to a trillion nowadays. The Bush administration’s final budget, for instance, came in at over $3 trillion, the first time that line’s been crossed. It’s as if every time our government sneezes (so to speak) billions of dollars are merely like the germs that are dispersed.
And take those Bush tax cuts. We’re talking about revenue to the tune of a trillion dollars or more. And that’s just what’s been foregone since the cuts were implemented. Should they be extended, as the presumptive GOP presidential nominee now desires, we’re talking multi-trillions of dollars of revenue.
Then there’s the nation’s ever mounting health care tab, now coming in around $2 trillion per annum. But as if affirming that ‘ever upward’ is the mantra of the health care industry, a recent report by the Office of the Actuary at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services predicts that the cost of health care in this country will about double by the year 2017 to some $4.3 trillion.
Here in our own backyard, four companies had over $1 trillion of total life insurance in-force at the end of 2006. And of these, Metropolitan Life is quickly closing in on $3 trillion of total in-force coverage. Prudential at year-end 2006 had just crossed the $2 trillion mark. There’s a huge amount of trust tied up in those obligations.