$1,000,000,000 in 1938 → $17,021,773,049.65 in 2016

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$1,000,000,000 in 1938 → $17,021,773,049.65 in 2016

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U.S. Inflation Rate, $1,000,000,000 in 1938 to 2016

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, prices in 2016 are 1,602.18% higher than average prices throughout 1938. The dollar experienced an average inflation rate of 3.70% per year during this period, meaning the real value of a dollar decreased.

In other words, $1,000,000,000 in 1938 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $17,021,773,049.65 in 2016, a difference of $16,021,773,049.65 over 78 years.

The 1938 inflation rate was -2.08%. The inflation rate in 2016 was 1.26%. The 2016 inflation rate is lower compared to the average inflation rate of 2.19% per year between 2016 and 2019.


Inflation from 1938 to 2016
Cumulative price change 1,602.18%
Average inflation rate 3.70%
Converted amount ($1,000,000,000 base) $17,021,773,049.65
Price difference ($1,000,000,000 base) $16,021,773,049.65
CPI in 1938 14.100
CPI in 2016 240.007
Inflation in 1938 -2.08%
Inflation in 2016 1.26%

USD Inflation since 1913
Annual Rate, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI
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Buying power of $1,000,000,000 in 1938

This chart shows calculation of buying power equivalence, often referred to as "the value of a dollar" over time for $1,000,000,000 in 1938 (price index tracking began in 1635).

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, each of these USD amounts below is equal in terms of what it could buy at the time:

Year Dollar Value Inflation Rate
1938 $1,000,000,000.00 -2.08%
1939 $985,815,602.84 -1.42%
1940 $992,907,801.42 0.72%
1941 $1,042,553,191.49 5.00%
1942 $1,156,028,368.79 10.88%
1943 $1,226,950,354.61 6.13%
1944 $1,248,226,950.35 1.73%
1945 $1,276,595,744.68 2.27%
1946 $1,382,978,723.40 8.33%
1947 $1,581,560,283.69 14.36%
1948 $1,709,219,858.16 8.07%
1949 $1,687,943,262.41 -1.24%
1950 $1,709,219,858.16 1.26%
1951 $1,843,971,631.21 7.88%
1952 $1,879,432,624.11 1.92%
1953 $1,893,617,021.28 0.75%
1954 $1,907,801,418.44 0.75%
1955 $1,900,709,219.86 -0.37%
1956 $1,929,078,014.18 1.49%
1957 $1,992,907,801.42 3.31%
1958 $2,049,645,390.07 2.85%
1959 $2,063,829,787.23 0.69%
1960 $2,099,290,780.14 1.72%
1961 $2,120,567,375.89 1.01%
1962 $2,141,843,971.63 1.00%
1963 $2,170,212,765.96 1.32%
1964 $2,198,581,560.28 1.31%
1965 $2,234,042,553.19 1.61%
1966 $2,297,872,340.43 2.86%
1967 $2,368,794,326.24 3.09%
1968 $2,468,085,106.38 4.19%
1969 $2,602,836,879.43 5.46%
1970 $2,751,773,049.65 5.72%
1971 $2,872,340,425.53 4.38%
1972 $2,964,539,007.09 3.21%
1973 $3,148,936,170.21 6.22%
1974 $3,496,453,900.71 11.04%
1975 $3,815,602,836.88 9.13%
1976 $4,035,460,992.91 5.76%
1977 $4,297,872,340.43 6.50%
1978 $4,624,113,475.18 7.59%
1979 $5,148,936,170.21 11.35%
1980 $5,843,971,631.21 13.50%
1981 $6,446,808,510.64 10.32%
1982 $6,843,971,631.21 6.16%
1983 $7,063,829,787.23 3.21%
1984 $7,368,794,326.24 4.32%
1985 $7,631,205,673.76 3.56%
1986 $7,773,049,645.39 1.86%
1987 $8,056,737,588.65 3.65%
1988 $8,390,070,921.99 4.14%
1989 $8,794,326,241.13 4.82%
1990 $9,269,503,546.10 5.40%
1991 $9,659,574,468.09 4.21%
1992 $9,950,354,609.93 3.01%
1993 $10,248,226,950.35 2.99%
1994 $10,510,638,297.87 2.56%
1995 $10,808,510,638.30 2.83%
1996 $11,127,659,574.47 2.95%
1997 $11,382,978,723.40 2.29%
1998 $11,560,283,687.94 1.56%
1999 $11,815,602,836.88 2.21%
2000 $12,212,765,957.45 3.36%
2001 $12,560,283,687.94 2.85%
2002 $12,758,865,248.23 1.58%
2003 $13,049,645,390.07 2.28%
2004 $13,397,163,120.57 2.66%
2005 $13,851,063,829.79 3.39%
2006 $14,297,872,340.43 3.23%
2007 $14,705,106,382.98 2.85%
2008 $15,269,716,312.06 3.84%
2009 $15,215,390,070.92 -0.36%
2010 $15,464,964,539.01 1.64%
2011 $15,953,120,567.38 3.16%
2012 $16,283,262,411.35 2.07%
2013 $16,521,773,049.65 1.46%
2014 $16,789,787,234.04 1.62%
2015 $16,809,716,312.06 0.12%
2016 $17,021,773,049.65 1.26%
2017 $17,384,397,163.12 2.13%
2018 $17,808,995,271.87 2.44%
2019 $18,166,170,212.77 2.01%*
* Compared to previous annual rate. Not final. See inflation summary for latest 12-month trailing value.
Click to show 72 more rows

Inflation by City

Inflation can vary widely by city, even within the United States. Here's how some cities fared in 1938 to 2016 (figures shown are purchasing power equivalents of $1,000,000,000):

  • San Francisco, California: 3.96% average rate, $1,000,000,000 → $20,730,532,467.53, cumulative change of 1,973.05%
  • Seattle, Washington: 3.86% average rate, $1,000,000,000 → $19,211,891,891.89, cumulative change of 1,821.19%
  • Boston, Massachusetts: 3.78% average rate, $1,000,000,000 → $18,127,591,410.33, cumulative change of 1,712.76%
  • New York: 3.78% average rate, $1,000,000,000 → $18,018,124,287.34, cumulative change of 1,701.81%
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 3.69% average rate, $1,000,000,000 → $16,852,502,863.69, cumulative change of 1,585.25%
  • Chicago, Illinois: 3.65% average rate, $1,000,000,000 → $16,388,451,459.20, cumulative change of 1,538.85%
  • Atlanta, Georgia: 3.65% average rate, $1,000,000,000 → $16,323,321,256.04, cumulative change of 1,532.33%
  • Houston, Texas: 3.64% average rate, $1,000,000,000 → $16,248,616,155.29, cumulative change of 1,524.86%
  • Detroit, Michigan: 3.56% average rate, $1,000,000,000 → $15,279,592,889.91, cumulative change of 1,427.96%

San Francisco, California experienced the highest rate of inflation during the 78 years between 1938 and 2016 (3.96%).

Detroit, Michigan experienced the lowest rate of inflation during the 78 years between 1938 and 2016 (3.56%).

Note that some locations showing 0% inflation may have not yet reported latest data.


Inflation by Country

Inflation can also vary widely by country. For comparison, in the UK £1,000,000,000.00 in 1938 would be equivalent to £61,767,857,142.86 in 2016, an absolute change of £60,767,857,142.86 and a cumulative change of 6,076.79%.

In Canada, CA$1,000,000,000.00 in 1938 would be equivalent to CA$16,894,736,842.11 in 2016, an absolute change of CA$15,894,736,842.11 and a cumulative change of 1,589.47%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of $16,021,773,049.65 and total percent change of 1,602.18%.


Inflation by Spending Category

CPI is the weighted combination of many categories of spending that are tracked by the government. This chart shows the average rate of inflation for select CPI categories between 1938 and 2016.

Compare these values to the overall average of 3.70% per year:

Category Avg Inflation (%) Total Inflation (%) $1,000,000,000 in 1938 → 2016
Food 3.94 1,942.53 20,425,259,822.56
Shelter 4.13 2,252.02 23,520,232,936.37
Energy 3.76 1,678.90 17,788,963,299.44
Apparel 2.27 476.60 5,766,025,054.54
New vehicles 1.14 141.49 2,414,879,031.20
Used cars and trucks 0.76 80.95 1,809,489,917.01
Transportation services 4.24 2,441.83 25,418,251,273.34
Medical care services 5.36 5,790.07 58,900,686,813.19
Medical care commodities 3.18 1,046.19 11,461,901,442.31

It's important to note that not all categories may be tracked since 1938. This table and visualization use the earliest available data for each category.



How to Calculate Inflation Rate for $1,000,000,000, 1938 to 2016

This inflation calculator uses the following inflation rate formula:

CPI in 2016CPI in 1938
×
1938 USD value
=
2016 USD value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 14.1 in the year 1938 and 240.007 in 2016:

240.00714.1
×
$1,000,000,000
=
$17,021,773,049.65

$1,000,000,000 in 1938 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as $17,021,773,049.65 in 2016.

To get the total inflation rate for the 78 years between 1938 and 2016, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2016 - CPI in 1938CPI in 1938
×
100
=
Cumulative inflation rate (78 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

240.007 - 14.114.1
×
100
=
1,602%

Comparison to S&P 500 Index

The average inflation rate of 3.70% has a compounding effect between 1938 and 2016. As noted above, this yearly inflation rate compounds to produce an overall price difference of 1,602.18% over 78 years.

To help put this inflation into perspective, if we had invested $1,000,000,000 in the S&P 500 index in 1938, our investment would be nominally worth approximately $3,450,529,866,770.87 in 2016. This is a return on investment of 344,952.99%, with an absolute return of $3,449,529,866,770.87.

These numbers are not inflation adjusted, so they are considered nominal. In order to evaluate the real return on our investment, we must calculate the return with inflation taken into account.

The compounding effect of inflation would account for 94.13% of returns ($3,246,875,897,838.84) during this period. This means the inflation-adjusted real return of our $1,000,000,000 investment is $202,653,968,932.03.

Investment in S&P 500 Index, 1938-2016
Original Amount Final Amount Change
Nominal $1,000,000,000 $3,450,529,866,770.87 344,952.99%
Real
Inflation Adjusted
$1,000,000,000 $202,653,968,932.03 20,265.40%


News headlines from 1938

Politics and news often influence economic performance. Here's what was happening at the time:

  • Anthony Eden resigns as United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary after stating that Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain has appeased Nazi Germany.
  • Czechoslovakia is forced to give territory to Germany after the Treaty of Munich was signed by Hitler, Mussolini, Daladier and Chamberlain.
  • Joseph Kennedy is named the 44th US Ambassador to the United Kingdom.

Data Source & Citation

Raw data for these calculations comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (CPI), established in 1913. Inflation data from 1665 to 1912 is sourced from a historical study conducted by political science professor Robert Sahr at Oregon State University.

You may use the following MLA citation for this page: “$1,000,000,000 in 1938 → 2016 | Inflation Calculator.” U.S. Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 22 Jul. 2019, https://www.officialdata.org/1938-dollars-in-2016?amount=1000000000.

Special thanks to QuickChart for providing downloadable chart images.

in2013dollars.com is a reference website maintained by the Official Data Foundation.


» Read more about inflation and investment.

Inflation from 1938 to 2016
Cumulative price change 1,602.18%
Average inflation rate 3.70%
Converted amount ($1,000,000,000 base) $17,021,773,049.65
Price difference ($1,000,000,000 base) $16,021,773,049.65
CPI in 1938 14.100
CPI in 2016 240.007
Inflation in 1938 -2.08%
Inflation in 2016 1.26%
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