The answer is complicated, which you might expect, but not because of the difficulty of tallying up all the rather large numbers. Rather, it’s more about which parameters are used to define “money.”
“The amount of money that exists changes depending on how we define it. The more abstract definition of money we use, the higher the number is,” said Jeff Desjardins, an editor of Visual Capitalist, who put together an infographic to answer this question.
For purists, who believe money refers only to currencies such as bank notes, coins, and money deposited in savings or checking accounts, the total is somewhere around $80.9 trillion.
But for those preferring a broader interpretation, including digital currency bitcoin, above-ground gold supply, and funds invested in various financial products like derivatives, the amount is in the quadrillions.
This is what a quadrillion looks like written out: 1,000,000,000,000,000.
Funds invested in derivatives alone total $1.2 quadrillion. In fact, there is more money in derivatives than in all the stock markets combined, which is a comparatively paltry $70 trillion. The U.S. accounts for roughly half of the global market cap thanks to companies like Apple Inc. AAPL, -0.77% Alphabet Inc. GOOGL, +0.65% and Microsoft Corp. MSFT, +1.38%
Investment in commercial real estate, often the most visible symbol of wealth, pales in comparison to stocks or derivatives at $7.6 trillion.
As for money owed by every single person and country in the world, the grand total is $199 trillion, with some 29% of it borrowed since the 2008 financial crisis.
The U.S. is responsible for nearly one-third of that global debt, while Europe follows at 26% and Japan at 20%. China, for all the criticism about its debt-fueled economic growth, owes 6% of the total.
And despite the attention bitcoin has received in recent years as an alternative currency, it clearly has a long way to go. The value of all bitcoin in circulation is estimated at $5 billion, a proverbial drop in the bucket.