How Big is Tether?

I have been following Tether for about three and a half years and still I struggle to really grasp how large it is. It is so absurdly large that it has started warping my perception of other huge amounts of money. I hear a million dollar fraud now and my first thought is “that’s it”, and so I am writing this to help provide some comparisons so I can help keep the scale of Tether in mind.

So let’s start with the basics. Currently on June 10th 2021 Tether has just about $63 billion Tethers. There are also a negligible 40 million Euro Tethers and a negligible 20 million offshore Yuan Tether. There is a somewhat more meaningful 85,417 ounces of gold for Tether gold. All three of the other forms of Tether are largely meaningless compared to dollar tethers.

Tether currently has approximately $2 billion less than Madoff’s fraud at its peak. Based on their average printing so far in 2021 they should cross over in 8 days.

Tether currently has approximately $2 billion less than the ‘Reserve Primary Fund’ a money market fund that broke the buck after Lehman Brother’s commercial paper was suddenly worthless. The commercial paper was a small portion of the total fund, with less that 2% (compare to Tether’s 50%), yet once the buck broke over 2/3 of assets were withdrawn in quick succession. Based on their average printing so far in 2021 they should become larger in 8 days.

The inflation adjusted size of the original Ponzi scheme by Charles Ponzi was $250 million. Tether currently is approximately 252 times larger than the original scheme of Charles Ponzi.

The Worldcom Fraud is a bit hard to put an exact number on. The accounting fraud seems to be about $3 billion. This is less than 5% of the current Tether market cap.

Based on this list Tether is very nearly the same size as the 25th largest mutual fund or ETF. At their average rate of printing for 2021 it will take approximately 20 days until Tether would be larger than entities on this list.

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