The U.S. Has Half As Much Cash As It Did Eight Days Ago

Down to $54 billion and sinking...

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Here's one way to think about the debt ceiling debate: on Thursday, the U.S. Treasury Department said that Washington now has a total operating balance of only US$73.768-billion. The Financial Post was quick to note that this is less than the cash reserve of Apple (US$75.876-billion).

As we continue to eat into our cash supply over the debate, the figures only gets worse. On July 18th, the Federal government had $114,326 billion in cash in the back. As of today, it has only $54 billion, which Business Insider pointed out is $2 billion less than Bill Gates. Henry Blodget at Business Insider commented, "By early next week, if Congress can't get its act together, the United States will have less cash than Google. Then Then, eventually,"As we continue our slide down the technology hierarchy, Business Insider provided this caveat: "Of course, net worth and cash on hand are different concepts, so it's kind of comparing apples and oranges, but what matters is that it's a powerful symbol."

Also powerful, this chart (courtesy of the U.S. Treasury via Business Insider):

Or perhaps it's not only terrible news that we now have less cash than Apple and Bill Gates -- the Los Angeles Times finds a silver lining in the fact that "in the mid-1890s, with the U.S. economy still recovering from the financial panic of 1893... President Cleveland met with New York financier J.P. Morgan, who pledged a whopping $60 million in gold. Adjusted for inflation, that would be about $1.5 billion today." Writes the LA Times: "It's not terribly likely that the government will ask Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs for help. But it wouldn't be the first time the government has asked for a bailout from an industry mogul."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.