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  • Hey, Vsauce. Michael here. On Earth

  • the average piece of currency changes hands

  • about 55 times a year. That's about once a week.

  • With that kind of turnover, it's safe to say that statistically

  • in the United States out of every 100 pieces of currency

  • one was most likely touched in the last year

  • by someone who within the next year will commit murder.

  • But how much cash,

  • how much physical currency is there on

  • earth?

  • First things first, how much cash

  • is inside of bank? Well, according to the FBI,

  • the average successful bank robbery involves 10,000 dollars.

  • But that's usually just currency from the tellers

  • tills. In their vaults, the average bank might have anywhere from 10,000

  • dollars

  • to a 100,000 dollars with some larger banks at times

  • carrying as much as a few million in cash.

  • But what about in our homes? How much loose change do we all have scattered on

  • dressers

  • or lost under cushions? Well, it's tough to

  • accurately figure out the exact number and many of the estimates vary.

  • Last year, Lloyds TSB announced that in the UK

  • the average person has about £14.15 just

  • lying around. A recent survey by VISA looked at a bunch of countries

  • and included cash left at home, the office,

  • and in the car. Their figures are a tad higher,

  • but agree with the US Treasury's estimate of few years ago

  • that the typical US household has ninety

  • to a hundred dollars just laying around,

  • which means that if just everyone in America scrounged up all of their loose

  • change

  • and put in one place, they would have 15

  • billion dollars. That's enough to fund

  • 357 more seasons of Arrested Development.

  • But we are asking about how much cash

  • there is on the entire planet. Well, that amount has a special name.

  • It is called M0.

  • It's an aggregate of all coins and banknotes.

  • DollarDays.org's most recent estimate

  • values this total amount, considering all currencies in countries,

  • at just slightly over the equivalent of 5

  • trillion US dollars. That number,

  • the value of all of the currency on Earth,

  • M0, is huge. But believe it or not,

  • it represents less than 10 percent

  • of all of the money we humans have available to spend

  • right away. To explain, we should look at how

  • money is born. In pretty much every country on Earth,

  • one of the ways new money can be born involves

  • a central bank. Now, let's say that in our country the bank is run

  • by Jake from Vsauce3. He's really smart

  • and he pays close attention to our economy. If he feels

  • that an increase of the money supply would help us, well,

  • he can just make more money.

  • It's that easy. It doesn't need to be printed as currency

  • to be born. The next step involves the commercial banks,

  • like the Bank of Vsauce. These are the banks that you and I use.

  • All the central bank needs to do is buy some things from these banks using the

  • money it just made

  • and now the commercial banks have more money. There's another way money can be

  • born.

  • It involves commercial banks and gets to the heart of our question.

  • If I go to the bank and deposit 5 pounds,

  • the bank says fantastic, we will hold on to this money for you

  • and at anytime you want, you can withdraw or spend

  • these 5 pounds. The thing is, legally,

  • banks only need to reserve a fraction

  • of the money that they are given. It is known as fractional reserve banking

  • and it pretty much happens in every country. It means

  • that if someone else comes along, like, say, Kevin from Vsauce2

  • and he wants to borrow some money, say, 3 pounds,

  • the bank can lend him 3 pounds. And now, whenever he wants he can

  • spend these 3 pounds. But here's the thing:

  • Kevin can spend 3 pounds and I can spend 5

  • for a total of 8, despite the fact that there are only 5 pounds

  • in the bank. New money has been born.

  • And if we want to count all of the spendable money

  • on Earth, we're going to need to include this type of money, the kind that

  • fractional reserve banking

  • creates. If we include that kind of money,

  • we are now talking about a number much larger than

  • M0. Economists call this figure

  • M1. M1 includes all

  • physical currencies, as well as money that people can access quickly,

  • like money in checking accounts. Globally,

  • across all countries and all currencies, M1 is

  • estimated to be the equivalent of 25

  • trillion US dollars.

  • M2 is an even broader definition of money

  • and it includes things that you can't necessarily spend right away.

  • For instance, savings accounts or CDs

  • under a hundred thousand dollars. M2, globally,

  • is currently estimated to be the equivalent of 60

  • trillion US dollars. Finally,

  • M3. This is a broad definition of money that includes

  • all currencies, banknotes and coins, checking accounts,

  • savings accounts, small CDs and really big, long time deposits.

  • In the American economy, the Federal Reserve doesn't even report this figure

  • anymore,

  • but as a measure of eventually spendable wealth it's real

  • and if we consider M3 the global money supply

  • that gives us a figure that is equivalent

  • to 75 trillion

  • US dollars. Of all that money,

  • how much of it is yours? Well, last week

  • over Twitter, Mark Boadey introduced me to Global Rich List

  • dot com. Enter your salary and figure out how you stack up

  • against everyone else on Earth.

  • By the way, you can act just like a central bank

  • and control the money supply yourself.

  • It is illegal, but you can technically increase the money supply

  • by counterfeiting and you can decrease the money supply

  • by subtracting money. For instance,

  • burning it. If you burn your own money,

  • you become poorer, but because you've decrease the money supply,

  • the power of everyone else's money goes up and they become a tiny tiny bit

  • richer. Of course, given the amount of money

  • on Earth and the amount that you could probably get your hands on and burn,

  • your effect will be quite imperceptible.

  • One the largest amounts of cash ever burned was done by KLF,

  • who in the nineties for reasons

  • no one's still quite sure of, burned a million

  • pounds worth of cash. It took them about

  • 2 hours to burn all of that cash and they recorded the act

  • on video. You can also destroy money

  • by eating it, like the rapper Tyga did. But

  • you probably shouldn't do that either because money

  • is dirty. A study published in Applied and Environmental Microbiology

  • reported that the flu virus can survive on cash

  • for 1 hour to 2 days.

  • And other studies have found that about 7 percent of cash

  • carries viable strains of dangerous bacteria,

  • like those the cause pneumonia or those that come from

  • feces. That is a lot

  • of germs and those germs might be high.

  • Studies have found that 92 percent of banknotes

  • are contaminated with traces of illegal drugs, typically

  • cocaine. In London that number has been as high as 99 percent.

  • All it takes is for a few exposed

  • bank notes to circulate normally for all of the cash

  • to become contaminated. Locked within the fibres of a banknote,

  • there's an average of 28 micrograms

  • of cocaine, which means that in 5,000 banknotes,

  • there's enough cocaine for an entire

  • line. These drug traces are nearly impossible to remove from bank notes,

  • so there's little risk of the drugs transferring to your skin.

  • However, they can be detected by drug sniffing dogs

  • and, on more than one occasion, courts have forced police to return confiscated

  • cash,

  • because even though drug dogs detected drugs on the cash,

  • that's just how cash is.

  • As if that wasn't enough, cash is

  • also not nutritious. Termites can eat cash,

  • but to us humans, the ones who love this stuff so much,

  • cash as we know it today and, for that matter, money

  • doesn't really have any intrinsic value.

  • In a post-apocalyptic world, where nothing was stable

  • and survival was a challenge, food,

  • clean, water, AMO, weapons, antibiotics, machines,

  • fuel, the trade and exchange and gifting

  • of those types of things would be our economy.

  • When what you use as money has an intrinsic value, it's useful

  • in and of itself, it is known as commodity money.

  • It can also include precious metals, like gold,

  • whose rarity makes it likely to be accepted by other people

  • for goods and services. Now, when you can safely store all of your commodities in

  • one place

  • and you don't need a defend them or lug them around everywhere,

  • representative money often makes more sense.

  • Store your valuables in a trusted place like a bank