By on June 28, 2016

globe (Mark Gollner/Flickr)

Imagine for a second that the cash Volkswagen must now spend to get itself out of trouble in the U.S. was a pile. It would be a great day for tobogganing.

The initial settlement for the diesel emissions scandal — vehicle buyback, compensation, make-the-air-nice-again programs — rings in at $14.7 billion, but the automaker has roughly $18 billion set aside to handle all of the American fallout.

When it comes to cash, the bigger the number, the harder it is to imagine what that figure really looks like. What could it buy? How many bananas is that? Well, there are countries that make less money in a year than Volkswagen, maker of the Jetta, just paid out to one country. (Keep in mind, there’s more countries waiting in the wings for their cash.)

Using data from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook (April 2016), here are the countries that undercut today’s payout in terms of nominal Gross Domestic Product:

Syria (Nil)

Tuvalu ($0.032 billion)

Kiribati ($0.159 billion)

Marshall Islands ($0.184 billion)

Palau ($0.302 billion)

Micronesia ($0.325 billion)

São Tomé and Príncipe ($0.349 billion)

Tonga ($0.414 billion)

Dominica ($0.521 billion)

Comoros ($0.609 billion)

St. Vincent and the Grenadines ($0.784 billion)

Vanuatu ($0.799 billion)

Samoa ($0.865 billion)

The Gambia ($0.886 billion)

St. Kitts and Nevis ($0.945 billion)

Grenada ($1.000 billion)

Guinea-Bissau ($1.136 billion)

Solomon Islands ($1.202 billion)

Antigua and Barbuda ($1.332 billion)

St. Lucia ($1.425 billion)

Seychelles ($1.427 billion)

San Marino ($1.569 billion)

Cabo Verde ($1.625 billion)

Lesotho ($1.766 billion)

Belize ($1.807 billion)

Central African Republic ($1.819 billion)

Djibouti ($1.903 billion)

Timor-Leste ($2.100 billion)

Liberia ($2.106 billion)

Bhutan ($2.475 billion)

Burundi ($2.772 billion)

South Sudan ($3.074 billion)

Maldives ($3.282 billion)

Guyana ($3.335 billion)

Swaziland ($3.391 billion)

Sierra Leone ($4.095 billion)

Montenegro ($4.182 billion)

Suriname ($4.336 billion)

Togo ($4.405 billion)

Barbados ($4.498 billion)

Mauritania ($4.541 billion)

Fiji ($4.964 billion)

Malawi ($5.347 billion)

Eritrea ($5.352 billion)

Kyrgyz Republic ($6.030 billion)

Moldova ($6.084 billion)

Tajikistan ($6.245 billion)

Kosovo ($6.471 billion)

Guinea ($6.569 billion)

Niger ($7.510 billion)

Equatorial Guinea ($7.884 billion)

Haiti ($8.160 billion)

Republic of Congo ($8.364 billion)

Rwanda ($8.490 billion)

The Bahamas ($8.917 billion)

Benin ($9.062 billion)

Brunei Darussalam ($9.097 billion)

Madagascar ($9.524 billion)

Chad ($10.096)

Malta ($10.341 billion)

FYR Macedonia ($10.424 billion)

Armenia ($10.774 billion)

Namibia ($11.210 billion)

Mongolia ($11.652 billion)

Mauritius ($11.865 billion)

Burkina Faso ($11.872 billion)

Albania ($12.269 billion)

Mozambique ($12.505 billion)

Botswana ($12.701 billion)

Nicaragua ($12.903 billion)

Lao P.D.R. ($13.359 billion)

Georgia ($13.942 billion)

Jamaica ($14.057 billion)

Gabon ($14.166 billion)

Mali ($14.198 billion)

Senegal ($14.572 billion)

Zimbabwe ($14.659 billion)

But wait – there’s more! Volkswagen expects to get hit with more penalties — the Justice Department and a majority of U.S. states all want to get their shots in, and financial regulators could come along with their own fines. It’s doubtful there’ll be any change left over from Volkswagen’s $18 billion penance pile.

So, by upping the total U.S. payout to that eventual number (which could go higher), we add more countries to the list:

Papua New Guinea ($15.615 billion)

Bosnia and Herzegovina ($16.324 billion)

Afghanistan ($17.275 billion)

Iceland ($18.633 billion)

That’s right, a German car company will likely have to spend the equivalent of Iceland’s annual GDP to get itself out of a scandal in the U.S. It’s breathtaking, and makes you wonder what some of Iceland’s exports are. Fish, probably. And Aurora Borealis photos.

The bulk of the automaker’s dirty diesels didn’t end up in U.S. hands, so after all 11 million vehicles are recalled, fixed or crushed, and all applicable fines, penalties and lawsuits settled, Volkswagen could find itself paying Paraguay levels of cash for its misdeeds. Hell, maybe even Serbia.

[Image: Mark Doliner/Flickr]

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31 Comments on “Here Are 77 Countries With a GDP Less Than the Volkswagen Settlement...”


  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    And this does not even cover the 3.0-liter V6 TDI that was used in the Touareg, and also certain Audi and Porsche products.

  • avatar
    pmirp1

    Is GDP a true measure of whether a country is well off or not? It seems like that is more of a aggregate criteria and not necessarily map to individual income units of each person in overall population. GDP could be a function of smaller populations. Iceland showing on this list may be a prime example.

    • 0 avatar
      DevilsRotary86

      Not sure you want to open that can of worms. This is the sort of thing that economists write really thick, heavy, and boring books about.

      But the cliff’s notes summary is that a country’s total GDP vaguely represents that country’s power on the world stage. Hence why the US and China can field militaries that other nations only dream of. It’s why the US has 10 fleet carriers while Iceland barely fields 4 minimally armed dinghies.

      The figure you are looking for is called “GDP per Capita” which is the GDP of a country divided by its population. That’s vaguely a measure of how “well off” the individual citizens of a country are. By that measure, Icelanders are roughly as well off as Americans.

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        What is the true worth of a nation? Is it just a number on a blog meant to show how large VW’s settlement is? Or is it something deeper?

        Can we measure a country by the beauty of its sunsets? By the smiles of its children, playing in the grass? Is beauty in a fine meal at a country inn, or the craftmanship of a local artisan? What about a country’s soul, can you truly measure that with a mere number?

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          @VoGo – valid points and there are ratings for Quality of life.

          Remember the old philosophical question, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it fall, does it make a sound?”

          Nowadays it is,

          “If google can not measure it or can not sell the results”,does it matter?”

          (no disrespect meant)

        • 0 avatar
          Kenmore

          “…the beauty of its sunsets? By the smiles of its children…”

          Screw that crap. I measure a country’s worth by the A/C in its public buildings and its wifi coverage.

          Oh, and municipal water quality. That’s where Illinoiss really drags us down.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Finally, a new standard prevails.

          • 0 avatar
            Kenmore

            Yeah, this ain’t your auntie’s kumbaya.

          • 0 avatar
            TonyJZX

            Kenmore is right. The ironic thing is that many of the nations listed cannot supply clean drinking water to all their citizens either…

            Since the vast majority of people here live in western economies of course our prejudices are all from this angle.

            Thing is when I saw that $14.7 settlement I didnt even think it was such a big deal. Billions of dollars get tossed around as if its nothing. The F35 program is in its trillions and has sucked billions from a handful of rich countries.

            $14.7 billion is what any western nation spends on a typical govt. program.

          • 0 avatar
            AoLetsGo

            Kenmore is it Illinois fault that Waukesha WI has bad municipal water and had to fight to get permission to daily pump in 8 million gallons of Lake Michigan?
            You and Vogo are both right, a country needs basic services and beauty to be worthy.

        • 0 avatar

          “Can we measure a country by the beauty of its sunsets? By the smiles of its children, playing in the grass? Is beauty in a fine meal at a country inn, or the craftmanship of a local artisan? What about a country’s soul, can you truly measure that with a mere number?”

          In this case, yes.

          I wouldn’t want to do any of those things in any of the countries listed,

          • 0 avatar
            TonyJZX

            San Marino and the Bahamas sound nice.

            But yeah, most of them places are strife torn and not really places anyone wants to live or go to.

      • 0 avatar
        pmirp1

        DevilsRotary86 – well explained. Somehow, I feel GDP for US distorts the picture. So much spent on military. The economic might of US is unquestionable. The economic might of individual US citizenry, is now exceeded by that of northern European countries. That makes me sad

        • 0 avatar
          Lou_BC

          pmirp1 – if you remove guys like Bill Gates from the average, yes, the “normal” USA citizen isn’t doing too well.

          That is partially why Trump is doing as well as he is. He isn’t seen as one more “bought and paid for” politician. He too has a price and I’m sure that threshold is a lot lower than what his supporters would like to believe.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            Yeah. Some guy hocking steaks on TV is above the money grabbing typical of politicians.

            You don’t need a degree from Trump University to figure that out.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            VoGo – YOU’RE FIRED

          • 0 avatar
            Big Al from Oz

            Lou_BC,
            You are correct in relation to the disparity within the US.

            What also must be taken into account is the impact the US has on trade, especially in the financial markets, etc. This money is apart of GDP, but how much of this is actually going back to the average person on the street.

            HDI is a good indicator on the well being and standard of living within a nation.

            When disparity is taken into account the US’es HDI drops from around fourth or fifth globally down in the 20s.

            Most OECD economies have differing methods to tackle disparity. Some like us must have a liveable minimum wage, which reduces the reliance on handouts and welfare. Then countries like the US will have food stamps and people living in quite appalling conditions for a modern nation.

            For a right winger I do fully support public health (within reason) and a liveable minimum wage as an entitlement. I do believe this reduces crime, offers citizens a decent standard of health and the ability of anyone who’s good enough to go to work to earn enough (barely) to survive.

            I don’t support welfare for business for extended periods. Personal welfare and middle class welfare I also believe is used as vote grabbing instruments by political parties, mainly at the detriment of a country debt.

    • 0 avatar
      MrGreenMan

      Still within numbers, but with some normalization, is an economic output per citizen productivity measure. The ANC was complaining that South Africa’s productivity profile was better than that of the United States and is now worse than China. This struck me as interesting, because we hear that China’s #2 in total size – but, with 4x the people of the US, they don’t have the same productivity per person.

      So that would make the comparison: what countries have lower productivity (per capita GDP) than each VW car is going to wind up costing? Iceland at 323,000 people vs. Zimbabwe at 14.1 Million people are going to look a whole lot differently placed on that list than this list, or else a picture of the Aurora Borealis is really quite an expensive thing.

      Edit: This was already said by DevilsRotary86 waiting for the page to load.
      Edit 2: For those on the site: It’s spinning forever on something called mpp.vindicosuite.com today.

    • 0 avatar
      Big Al from Oz

      pmirp1
      GDP does give an indication (overall) on how well a country is performing economically, but remember look at the GDP numbers as per capita. Iceland as is mentioned above only has a population of a very small city, ie, approx 300 000 as compared to Jamcia which has several million(?).

      What GDP doesn’t take into account is the cost of earning that money, ie, income. The more it costs to make the GDP the less the income is. The US has a very high GDP overall, by country and per capita. The US is also quite good at earning income. The other part of the equation is how much of that money filters down to the average “Joe”.

      That’s why countries like Norway, Sweden, Denmark, etc have high GDP figures per capita. But the GDP is inflated by the collection of tax. Tax in some of these countries is above 50% of GDP. Countries like the US, Canada, Australia, Japan, etc have 25% to 30% of tax represented in their GDP numbers. So, this means much more of the money is left in the hands of the average “Joe” and not some socialist bureaucrats hands to mete out to he thinks is more worthy than you.

      To find out how well a country is have a look at the HDI (Human Development Indicator) standings. This takes into account wealth, health, education, etc.

      Even then HDI doesn’t illustrate the disparity within a nation, ie, rich vs poor. There are adjusted HDI numbers showing this disparity in nations.

    • 0 avatar

      There are more than 1,000 Americans for every Icelander. Iceland’s per capita GDP is roughly $66,000. US is around 53k.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The “GDP” of my employer is multiples of that settlement, as is Volkswagen’s.

    Walmart – at #1 – has $482 BILLION in annual revenue, which would place it at roughly #25 on this list, ahead of about 160 other countries:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal)

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      SCE to AUX – Wallmart would fit right in with most banana republics. Pay the peons pennies and sell junk for mucho dinero.

    • 0 avatar
      yamahog

      Ranking companies’ revenuves against GDPs is interesing but ultimately futile. Walmart doesn’t have a standing army or recognized terroritry.

      IMO it’s more interesting to look at # of employees vs. population of countries.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    TTAC covers the VW diesel scandal like CNN covered Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and missing blonde girls.

    STFU already…Jesus. You’ve become stalkers.

    This just in: “Shroud of Turin actually has VW logo on it…coincidence? We think not.”

  • avatar
    probert

    Iceland also exports Sigur Ros and Bjork

    https://youtu.be/69R_Uf57R0U

  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    “Sigur Ros and Bjork”

    At first I thought you were trying to circumvent the blog filters.

  • avatar
    Geekcarlover

    Syria has a GDP of 0? Have you Seen the cost of 7.62×39? If they’d stop slinging it at each other and export it, they would have a fortune.

  • avatar

    uau kkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk

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