Pretty Soon You’re Talking Real Money

by John Holbo on October 29, 2008

I see Henry just linked to his bloggingheads exchange with Dan “the blogger” Drezner about the end of capitalism as we know it, and such minor political twiddles. I was just about to link to it for him (I thought maybe he was being modest.) Good stuff. I’m John Holbo and I endorse this podcast.

One quick note. Round about minute 21 Drezner remarks that “the $64,000 question is going to be: which bureaucracies are put in charge of these crises?” Funny choice of figurative figures. What is it really? The 640 billion dollar question? 6.4 trillion? (I’d link to that spot in the diavlog but, honestly, the site loads so damn slow for me. I recommend downloading the mp3 or getting it through iTunes or wherever.)



Phil 10.29.08 at 3:16 pm

Here’s the link you were looking for John:


Lex 10.29.08 at 3:41 pm

Of course, “sixty four thousand dollar question” is only a funny choice if you’re not familiar with the idiom. Go on, Google it, I’m not doing your work for you. Perhaps you are being meta-ironic? If so, not very well…


Ginger Yellow 10.29.08 at 3:41 pm

According to the Bank of England’s latest Financial Stability report, published this week, it’s the $2.8tn question.


John Holbo 10.29.08 at 4:40 pm

Oh I know that it’s the gameshow thingy. I say it still sounds funny, in the context of discussion of these staggering sums.


Michael Turner 10.29.08 at 4:41 pm

According to Wikipedia (yeah, I know, I fix idiocies there all the time, so leave me alone, OK?), it used to be the $64 Question. Then again, a dollar could buy more back then, and the contest concept germinated on radio, a medium that hit its stride during the Great Banana.

Of course, if we go into hyperinflation, as some hyperventilator somewhere must be predicting as I type these very words, the joke will be “a billion dollars here, a billion dollars there, pretty soon you’re talking about a cup of coffee.”

In Zimbabwe these days, I guess that’s not even a joke.

(Tip-toeing across that bridge Lex lives under, hoping he won’t wake up ….)


Gene O'Grady 10.29.08 at 5:31 pm

The observations on the $64,000 question remind me of the puzzle of my youth — why did my parents and such use the phrase “the $64 question” when I could see on TV that the show was called the $64,000 question. Puzzle remains, only the numbers have been changed.


Stuart 10.29.08 at 5:53 pm

In Zimbabwe these days, I guess that’s not even a joke.

Depends what you are talking about: the official currency conversion of Z3$ today is 507.24 to 1US$ – but Z3$ being 10billion Z2$, which were themselves 1000 Z1$ means it is really Z1$5 quadrillion to 1US$ today, so a billion here and there won’t get you anywhere.

If you use OMIR instead of official rates 1US$= ~1 trillion Z3$, or 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 Z1$ (10 septillion). Currently OMIR is doubling every 12 hours, so by the time you read this it will be a whole lot more.


Lex 10.30.08 at 8:45 am

Troll, moi? I rather think asking pseudo-naive questions comes closer to a classic definition of ‘trolling’ than does responding briefly and bluntly that the answer is obvious.

Me? I treasue my 10-million mark note of 1923, printed by the Dusseldorf Central Electricity Company, presumably because the state was having to subcontract out to meet demand. Nowadays, of course, places like Zim get German private firms to do their printing for them – or rather they did:


Tom Parmenter 11.01.08 at 11:12 pm

There was a radio program in the 40s called The $64 Question and a television quiz show in the 50s called The $64,000 Question.

In each, you started with a 2 question and doubled your way up to 64.

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