How much is a European and an American trillion worth?

Billion Zimbabwe dollars using the American nomenclature

Billion Zimbabwe dollars using the American nomenclature

Sometimes to express numerical figures we use letters instead of numbers. In principle, it is the same to write "1.000" as "thousand", its use being indifferent. However, when we reach billions, things change. This is especially important in the case of financial and stock market analysis, since it is quite common to have to use large figures when analyzing multinational companies. In this article we will see the difference between European and American billions so as not to fall into a very common confusion in which even professional circles fall.

The European trillion

The European trillion is a million million.

1 billón europeo = 1.000.000.000.000

It is called a long scale that uses the trillion as a million million.

It is important not to confuse it with the American billion that we will talk about next. In the American or short-scale case, a million million would be a trillion.

The American trillion

An American trillion is a billion.

1 American billón = 1.000.000.000

The short scale is called the one that uses the trillion as one billion.

This numerical naming system originates from the United States and was implemented in the United Kingdom from 1.974 onwards.

There are also criticisms from the mathematical point of view to this American conception of the trillion as a billion in the Anglo-Saxon world, arguing that the correct thing should be to use the meaning of a million million in the American “billion”. In this vídeo de youtube comment on the issue:

In Spanish, the word used to refer to billions of Americans or billions is billions. That is, 5 billion euros is 5 billion euros.

Where is the long scale used and where is the short scale used?

On this map, courtesy of wikipedia, we can see the use of the different scales to name these large figures throughout the world.

European and American trillion

Long and short stopovers throughout the world

Countries in blue use the long scale, countries in pink the short scale, countries in purple use both scales, and countries in yellow use another type of scale to name these figures.

Beware of bad translations

Unfortunately, it is still very common in the press to confuse the billions of Americans with Europeans when it comes to translating figures. Here you have a couple of examples taken from the blog "Bad press”, A blog that is dedicated to compiling errors from the serious press that are very curious and that I take the opportunity to recommend: