back to article UK national debt hits 1.46 Apples – and weighs as much as 2 billion adult badgers

British national debt has topped £2tn – meaning the country is now collectively in hock for 16.9831 yearly NHS Budgets, just under 22,442 Paul Pogbas, or, if you're really smart and original, close to 1.46 Apple Incs. News of just how far the UK has sunk into the red was revealed by the BBC, which sliced and diced figures …

  1. Conyn Curmudgeon

    How many olympic football sized double decker elephant buses is that?

    1. Trollslayer

      Indian or African?

      These things matter.

      1. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

        Of course,

        the African olympic football sized double decker elephant bus is non-migratory.

        1. big_D Silver badge

          Re: Of course,

          Dumbo begs to differ. It is his Indian brethren that can't migrate.

      2. NoneSuch Silver badge

        The Math Is a Lot Simpler

        It's not 1.46 Apples, it's one Brexit.

    2. Allan George Dyer

      red.grey ?

      1. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C Silver badge

        For elephants, red on the inside and grey on the outside. African and Indian.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        As elephants are involved, pink of course.

        1. ClockworkOwl

          You forget, if the government is involved, it'll be mostly white elephants...

          1. David Roberts

            White elephant?

            Noting in passing that this is surprisingly non racist.

            Unless of course you try and link it to something that is to all intents and purposes practically useless but still needs feefing.

            Why are you looking at me and nodding?

    3. Jellied Eel Silver badge


      £1=1.25cm^3 approx

      Therefore debt is roughly equivalent to:-

      998.8542 Olympic sized swimming pools

      431313200.3232 footballs

      And of course

      4774637127.5783 gf (grapefruit)

      Conversion to walnuts would almost certainly lead to an explosion of squirrels, and thus the BoE is not considering it at this time. In a bid to provide jobs* however, 1,000 new swimming pools would be a great way to ease congestion** and get the nation back to health.

      *Which gets me thinking. Could you build 1,000 new pools for £2tn or less?

      **Unless each pool contained 431,000 footballs as a store of wealth. Given the cost of a football exceeds £1 however, this would be inflationary, although provide additional jobs managing inflation.

  2. DoctorPaul

    To put that in context

    Interesting quote from BBC News:

    If you started spending £1,000,000 a day as they started to build Stonehenge, you still wouldn't have reached that amount!

    1. don't you hate it when you lose your account


      Thank for putting it in to full wide screen so we can view where we are in full panoramic glory. Pity we just didn't open our eyes sioner.

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: To put that in context

      As the saying goes, you spend a billion here and a billion there - soon you're talking serious money...

      Although does that spending a million a day include for compound interest?

      In fact, launches spreadsheet: spend 365m per year and pay 2% interest on the total debt at the end of the year - I get to £2tn national debt after "only" 238 years. Which doesn't even take us back to Norman the Conqueror, let alone Stonehenge...

      1. Evil_Goblin

        Re: To put that in context

        I would suggest you've done something wrong on your spreadsheet then...

        Even ignoring interest, £2,000,000,000,000 divided by £365,000,000 gives 5479.5 years

        1. Evil_Goblin

          Re: To put that in context

          Sorry, realised you were working out how long to accrue, and I was working out how long to pay off...

  3. Roger Kynaston

    So give us an MacBook Pro

    Each of us should qualify for one now. I'm sure Tim Cook would be happy to discuss this with Rishi and the Johnson.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: So give us an MacBook Pro

      Even if that remote possibility came true, some people would not be satisfied. Fact of life I'm afraid.

  4. R Soul Silver badge

    I don't understand these new-fangled units. What's the debt in areas the size of Wales?

    1. Korev Silver badge

      Blue or Humpback?

      1. The commentard formerly known as Mister_C Silver badge

        Red on the inside and grey on the outside.

        Sorry, replying to the wrong thread

      2. EagleZ28


        Sperm? or killer?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If I wanted to be picky (and of course I do otherwise why would I be here ? ) I'd point out that the £2 trillion figure is misleading since it includes £195 billion of BoE QE stuff, which shouldn't be included in the total.

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Why not since the BoE has already started monetising government debt? But apparently the 1970s can't happen again.

    2. AndrueC Silver badge

      If you're going to be picky, good luck converting Apple's $2t value into cash :)

    3. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      Not like it's real money anyway:

  6. TVU Silver badge

    "UK national debt hits 1.46 Apples – and weighs as much as 2 billion adult badgers"

    Well, we can get a large instant saving by axing the huge £110 billion unnecessary excrescence that is HS2 not only because Covid-19 has advanced homeworking and reduced the need to commute by a decade but also because significant journey time cuts are now already available by using Hitachi's new Intercity Express Trains that run on existing standard rail tracks.

    1. David Roberts


      This raise the important question of how many million badgers to the TB?

    2. Evil_Goblin

      Having seen the amount of incompetent people who have been safely "employed" on HS2 already, I think that if that £110bn is keeping them out of the wider world of work for the next decade then that is money well spent.

      Ultimately all these big infrastructure projects are just ways of getting around state aid rules and funnel public money to the private sector. The (non)delivery or success of the final output is somewhat irrelevant.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If every country on the planet owes money which planet do we owe it to?

    This economic collapse was already well on it's way, covid just accelerated it and brexit was the original cover for it.

    1. J.G.Harston Silver badge

      Shhhh!!! That's a dangerous thought. The universe might hear you and (aurgh!)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The majority of UK state debt is owed to the Bank of England.

      The Bank of England is owned in full by a single civil service post (not the holder) within the treasury.

      Unless you are extremely pedantic the UK government owes itself most of the money.

      Can’t say how other countries central banks are structured. Many will be private banks.

      1. Michael Habel

        I thought the "Bank of England" was opperated by some bloke named Rothschild? Apperently he seemed less interested in law making, then hording the nations trsure of gold.

    3. veti Silver badge

      Mostly, it's owed to rich people.

      Government debt, in most first world countries at least, is considered about the safest commodity you can buy. So when the economy is in the crapper, rich people rush to lend their money to governments that, they think, will most likely not rat on it.

      This is the real reason to want to reduce debt: it's money from tomorrow's taxpayers that will go to the people who need it least. It's also, of course, why there's an unholy alliance between left and right wing politicians to keep growing the debt, whatever happens.

  8. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    I read that as: Tim Cook's toupee....

    1. AndrueC Silver badge

      Oh well. Hair today, gone tomorrow :)

  9. Aussie Doc
    Black Helicopters

    Yeah, sure.

    I wonder if Apple would consider asking if the Gov wants them to pay off the debt for them in exchange for 'favours'? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    All your data belong to us?

  10. John Jennings


    We are f**ked, then.

    Time to get a fixed rate mortgage if you can. It will only help for a few years, but better than nothing.

    I remember the 1970's......

    1. the Jim bloke

      Re: well,

      If you remember them, you weren't there... or was that the 60's ...

  11. Doogie Howser MD

    So it goes

    Well while world leaders continue to over react to a virus that statistically has minimal risk to the man (or woman, or gender fluid) in the street, this is bound to happen. Reverse the lockdown, manage at risk groups (mainly care home residents) and get rid of those virtue signaling, placebo based "face coverings".

    1. veti Silver badge

      Re: So it goes

      Yeah, cos that worked so well for Sweden...

      There is no way of fixing the economy without getting the pandemic under control first. The US is an abject lesson in what happens if you insist on seeing it as a tradeoff - you get a huge economic crash *and* a huge pile of dead people, both at the same time.

      New Zealand, on the other hand - has (until ten days ago) no covid-19 and unemployment that actually went *down* in the first half of the year. Now it's got a new outbreak, but it's far better placed to take care of it than most anyone in Europe.

      1. Evil_Goblin

        Re: So it goes

        But NZ only has a population of 5m and most of it is in relatively low density accommodation compared to Europe / UK etc - all much easier to deal with.

        Not denying that Ms Arden has certainly made a great fist of it and showed more leadership that most of the rest of the world, but circumstances have definitely helped.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So it goes

          Low density is not an argument against how well NZ have dealt with this. Yes the country as a whole has very low population density, however the majority of the country are packed into the two main cities, so actually has quite high population density based upon occupied land.

      2. Doogie Howser MD

        Re: So it goes

        177K out of 320 million isn't a "huge pile", but I expected downvotes. Such is life.

      3. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: So it goes


        "Yeah, cos that worked so well for Sweden..."

        It did. Less economic damage and health wise performed less bad than countries in strict lockdown

  12. MJI Silver badge

    or in other units

    Nearly 5726 lies on a bus

  13. deadlockvictim


    El Reg» UK debt is therefore equivalent to 22,441Pb...

    Shouldn't this be 22.4 KPbs, that is, 22.4 Kilopogbas?

    What with the U.K. leaving Europe and all of that, isn't it time to reject decimalisation and all of its works?

    The U.S. has shown that how easy it is to live with Imperial measurement system. You need something truly intuitive like LSD — pound-shillings-pence for those too young to remember. The Sixties, well, the early Seventies really, were a time of experimentation with wacky new ideas.

    1. EvilDrSmith Silver badge

      Re: Standardisation

      >The Sixties, well, the early Seventies really, were a time of experimentation with wacky new ideas.

      Like joining the EEC

  14. MudFever


    I was taught at University that government project over-runs are measured in Nimrods, but am unable to see it on your conversion web page.

    As for the national debt, I am in favour of the Badger as the unit of measure.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nimrods

      Not sure the last Labour chancellor would like that.

  15. codejunky Silver badge


    People still argue for the gov to spend much more!

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lateral thinking

    Does this mean badger culling is a debt-reduction strategy?

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