\$400,000,000 in 1878 is worth \$10,255,560,000 today

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Value of \$400,000,000 from 1878 to 2020

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics consumer price index, today's prices in 2020 are 2,463.89% higher than average prices since 1878. The U.S. dollar experienced an average inflation rate of 2.31% per year during this period, causing the real value of a dollar to decrease.

In other words, \$400,000,000 in 1878 is equivalent in purchasing power to about \$10,255,560,000 in 2020, a difference of \$9,855,560,000.00 over 142 years.

The 1878 inflation rate was -4.76%. The current year-over-year inflation rate (2019 to 2020) is now 0.33%1. If this number holds, \$400,000,000 today will be equivalent in buying power to \$401,316,386.75 next year. The current inflation rate page gives more detail on the latest official inflation rates.

 Cumulative price change 2,463.89% Average inflation rate 2.31% Converted amount (\$400,000,000 base) \$10,255,560,000 Price difference (\$400,000,000 base) \$9,855,560,000.00 CPI in 1878 10.000 CPI in 2020 256.389 Inflation in 1878 -4.76% Inflation in 2020 0.33%

USD Inflation since 1635
Annual Rate, the Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI

Buying power of \$400,000,000 in 1878

This chart shows a calculation of buying power equivalence for \$400,000,000 in 1878 (price index tracking began in 1635).

For example, if you started with \$400,000,000, you would need to end with \$10,255,560,000 in order to "adjust" for inflation (sometimes refered to as "beating inflation").

When \$400,000,000 is equivalent to \$10,255,560,000 over time, that means that the "real value" of a single U.S. dollar decreases over time. In other words, a dollar will pay for fewer items at the store.

This effect explains how inflation erodes the value of a dollar over time. By calculating the value in 1878 dollars, the chart below shows how \$400,000,000 is worth less over 142 years.

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:

Dollar inflation: 1878-2020
Year Dollar Value Inflation Rate
1878 \$400,000,000.00 -4.76%
1879 \$400,000,000.00 0.00%
1880 \$408,000,000.00 2.00%
1881 \$408,000,000.00 0.00%
1882 \$408,000,000.00 0.00%
1883 \$404,000,000.00 -0.98%
1884 \$392,000,000.00 -2.97%
1885 \$388,000,000.00 -1.02%
1886 \$376,000,000.00 -3.09%
1887 \$380,000,000.00 1.06%
1888 \$380,000,000.00 0.00%
1889 \$368,000,000.00 -3.16%
1890 \$364,000,000.00 -1.09%
1891 \$364,000,000.00 0.00%
1892 \$364,000,000.00 0.00%
1893 \$360,000,000.00 -1.10%
1894 \$344,000,000.00 -4.44%
1895 \$336,000,000.00 -2.33%
1896 \$336,000,000.00 0.00%
1897 \$332,000,000.00 -1.19%
1898 \$332,000,000.00 0.00%
1899 \$332,000,000.00 0.00%
1900 \$336,000,000.00 1.20%
1901 \$340,000,000.00 1.19%
1902 \$344,000,000.00 1.18%
1903 \$352,000,000.00 2.33%
1904 \$356,000,000.00 1.14%
1905 \$352,000,000.00 -1.12%
1906 \$360,000,000.00 2.27%
1907 \$376,000,000.00 4.44%
1908 \$368,000,000.00 -2.13%
1909 \$364,000,000.00 -1.09%
1910 \$380,000,000.00 4.40%
1911 \$380,000,000.00 0.00%
1912 \$388,000,000.00 2.11%
1913 \$396,000,000.00 2.06%
1914 \$400,000,000.00 1.01%
1915 \$404,000,000.00 1.00%
1916 \$436,000,000.00 7.92%
1917 \$512,000,000.00 17.43%
1918 \$604,000,000.00 17.97%
1919 \$692,000,000.00 14.57%
1920 \$800,000,000.00 15.61%
1921 \$716,000,000.00 -10.50%
1922 \$672,000,000.00 -6.15%
1923 \$684,000,000.00 1.79%
1924 \$684,000,000.00 0.00%
1925 \$700,000,000.00 2.34%
1926 \$708,000,000.00 1.14%
1927 \$696,000,000.00 -1.69%
1928 \$684,000,000.00 -1.72%
1929 \$684,000,000.00 0.00%
1930 \$668,000,000.00 -2.34%
1931 \$608,000,000.00 -8.98%
1932 \$548,000,000.00 -9.87%
1933 \$520,000,000.00 -5.11%
1934 \$536,000,000.00 3.08%
1935 \$548,000,000.00 2.24%
1936 \$556,000,000.00 1.46%
1937 \$576,000,000.00 3.60%
1938 \$564,000,000.00 -2.08%
1939 \$556,000,000.00 -1.42%
1940 \$560,000,000.00 0.72%
1941 \$588,000,000.00 5.00%
1942 \$652,000,000.00 10.88%
1943 \$692,000,000.00 6.13%
1944 \$704,000,000.00 1.73%
1945 \$720,000,000.00 2.27%
1946 \$780,000,000.00 8.33%
1947 \$892,000,000.00 14.36%
1948 \$964,000,000.00 8.07%
1949 \$952,000,000.00 -1.24%
1950 \$964,000,000.00 1.26%
1951 \$1,040,000,000.00 7.88%
1952 \$1,060,000,000.00 1.92%
1953 \$1,068,000,000.00 0.75%
1954 \$1,076,000,000.00 0.75%
1955 \$1,072,000,000.00 -0.37%
1956 \$1,088,000,000.00 1.49%
1957 \$1,124,000,000.00 3.31%
1958 \$1,156,000,000.00 2.85%
1959 \$1,164,000,000.00 0.69%
1960 \$1,184,000,000.00 1.72%
1961 \$1,196,000,000.00 1.01%
1962 \$1,208,000,000.00 1.00%
1963 \$1,224,000,000.00 1.32%
1964 \$1,240,000,000.00 1.31%
1965 \$1,260,000,000.00 1.61%
1966 \$1,296,000,000.00 2.86%
1967 \$1,336,000,000.00 3.09%
1968 \$1,392,000,000.00 4.19%
1969 \$1,468,000,000.00 5.46%
1970 \$1,552,000,000.00 5.72%
1971 \$1,620,000,000.00 4.38%
1972 \$1,672,000,000.00 3.21%
1973 \$1,776,000,000.00 6.22%
1974 \$1,972,000,000.00 11.04%
1975 \$2,152,000,000.00 9.13%
1976 \$2,276,000,000.00 5.76%
1977 \$2,424,000,000.00 6.50%
1978 \$2,608,000,000.00 7.59%
1979 \$2,904,000,000.00 11.35%
1980 \$3,296,000,000.00 13.50%
1981 \$3,636,000,000.00 10.32%
1982 \$3,860,000,000.00 6.16%
1983 \$3,984,000,000.00 3.21%
1984 \$4,156,000,000.00 4.32%
1985 \$4,304,000,000.00 3.56%
1986 \$4,384,000,000.00 1.86%
1987 \$4,544,000,000.00 3.65%
1988 \$4,732,000,000.00 4.14%
1989 \$4,960,000,000.00 4.82%
1990 \$5,228,000,000.00 5.40%
1991 \$5,448,000,000.00 4.21%
1992 \$5,612,000,000.00 3.01%
1993 \$5,780,000,000.00 2.99%
1994 \$5,928,000,000.00 2.56%
1995 \$6,096,000,000.00 2.83%
1996 \$6,276,000,000.00 2.95%
1997 \$6,420,000,000.00 2.29%
1998 \$6,520,000,000.00 1.56%
1999 \$6,664,000,000.00 2.21%
2000 \$6,888,000,000.00 3.36%
2001 \$7,084,000,000.00 2.85%
2002 \$7,196,000,000.00 1.58%
2003 \$7,360,000,000.00 2.28%
2004 \$7,556,000,000.00 2.66%
2005 \$7,812,000,000.00 3.39%
2006 \$8,064,000,000.00 3.23%
2007 \$8,293,680,000.00 2.85%
2008 \$8,612,120,000.00 3.84%
2009 \$8,581,480,000.00 -0.36%
2010 \$8,722,240,000.00 1.64%
2011 \$8,997,560,000.00 3.16%
2012 \$9,183,760,000.00 2.07%
2013 \$9,318,280,000.00 1.46%
2014 \$9,469,440,000.00 1.62%
2015 \$9,480,680,000.00 0.12%
2016 \$9,600,280,000.00 1.26%
2017 \$9,804,800,000.00 2.13%
2018 \$10,049,200,000.00 2.49%
2019 \$10,226,300,000.00 1.76%
2020 \$10,255,560,000.00 0.29%*
* Compared to previous annual rate. Not final. See inflation summary for latest 12-month trailing value.
Click to show 136 more rows

This conversion table shows various other 1878 amounts in today's dollars, based on the 2,463.89% change in prices:

Conversion Table: Value of a dollar today
Initial value Equivalent value
\$1 dollar in 1878 \$25.64 dollars today
\$5 dollars in 1878 \$128.19 dollars today
\$10 dollars in 1878 \$256.39 dollars today
\$50 dollars in 1878 \$1,281.95 dollars today
\$100 dollars in 1878 \$2,563.89 dollars today
\$500 dollars in 1878 \$12,819.45 dollars today
\$1,000 dollars in 1878 \$25,638.90 dollars today
\$5,000 dollars in 1878 \$128,194.50 dollars today
\$10,000 dollars in 1878 \$256,389.00 dollars today
\$50,000 dollars in 1878 \$1,281,945.00 dollars today
\$100,000 dollars in 1878 \$2,563,890.00 dollars today
\$500,000 dollars in 1878 \$12,819,450.00 dollars today
\$1,000,000 dollars in 1878 \$25,638,900.00 dollars today

Inflation by Country

Inflation can also vary widely by country. For comparison, in the UK £400,000,000.00 in 1878 would be equivalent to £47,926,036,242.29 in 2020, an absolute change of £47,526,036,242.29 and a cumulative change of 11,881.51%.

Compare these numbers to the US's overall absolute change of \$9,855,560,000.00 and total percent change of 2,463.89%.

Inflation by Spending Category

CPI is the weighted combination of many categories of spending that are tracked by the government. Breaking down these categories helps explain the main drivers behind price changes. This chart shows the average rate of inflation for select CPI categories between 1878 and 2020.

Compare these values to the overall average of 2.31% per year:

Category Avg Inflation (%) Total Inflation (%) \$400,000,000 in 1878 → 2020
Food and beverages 3.87 21,999.41 88,397,648,156.11
Housing 4.18 33,565.37 134,661,486,461.38
Apparel 1.98 1,526.61 6,506,453,904.31
Transportation 3.18 8,437.72 34,150,890,271.00
Medical care 5.11 117,757.10 471,428,398,927.68
Recreation 1.09 368.73 1,874,900,329.03
Education and communication 1.82 1,198.42 5,193,681,774.32
Other goods and services 4.98 98,955.47 396,221,863,295.62

The graph below compares inflation in categories of goods over time. Click on a category such as "Food" to toggle it on or off:

For all these visualizations, it's important to note that not all categories may have been tracked since 1878. This table and charts use the earliest available data for each category.

How to Calculate Inflation Rate for \$400,000,000 since 1878

Our calculations use the following inflation rate formula to calculate the change in value between 1878 and today:

CPI today CPI in 1878
×
1878 USD value
=
Today's value

Then plug in historical CPI values. The U.S. CPI was 10 in the year 1878 and 256.389 in 2020:

256.38910
×
\$400,000,000
=
\$10,255,560,000

\$400,000,000 in 1878 has the same "purchasing power" or "buying power" as \$10,255,560,000 in 2020.

To get the total inflation rate for the 142 years between 1878 and 2020, we use the following formula:

CPI in 2020 - CPI in 1878CPI in 1878
×
100
=
Cumulative inflation rate (142 years)

Plugging in the values to this equation, we get:

256.389 - 1010
×
100
=
2,464%

Comparison to S&P 500 Index

The average inflation rate of 2.31% has a compounding effect between 1878 and 2020. As noted above, this yearly inflation rate compounds to produce an overall price difference of 2,463.89% over 142 years.

To help put this inflation into perspective, if we had invested \$400,000,000 in the S&P 500 index in 1878, our investment would be nominally worth approximately \$130,233,631,267,877.44 in 2020. This is a return on investment of 32,558,307.82%, with an absolute return of \$130,233,231,267,877.44 on top of the original \$400,000,000.

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 96.10% of returns (\$125,154,098,555,168.34) during this period. This means the inflation-adjusted real return of our \$400,000,000 investment is \$5,079,132,712,709.10. You may also want to account for capital gains tax, which would take your real return down to around \$4,317,262,805,803 for most people.

Investment in S&P 500 Index, 1878-2020
Original Amount Final Amount Change
Nominal \$400,000,000 \$130,233,631,267,877.44 32,558,307.82%
Real
\$400,000,000 \$5,079,532,712,709.10 1,269,783.18%

Information displayed above may differ slightly from other S&P 500 calculators. Minor discrepancies can occur because we use the latest CPI data for inflation, annualized inflation numbers for previous years, and we compute S&P price and dividends from January of 1878 to latest available data for 2020 using average monthly close price.

For more details on the S&P 500 between 1878 and 2020, see the stock market returns calculator.

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

• Berlin Congress begins with goal to determine the territories of the states in the Balkans after the Russo-Turkish war.
• King Leopold II's agent secretly meets Henry Morton Stanley.
• Thomas Edison patents the gramophone.

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: “\$400,000,000 in 1878 → 2020 | Inflation Calculator.” Official Inflation Data, Alioth Finance, 2 Jun. 2020, https://www.officialdata.org/us/inflation/1878?amount=400000000.