It's a little hard to get our heads around the big dollar numbers that are thrown around today. But a starting point to understanding them is the average annual income in the US of a little over $50,000. All of us can pretty well understand what that looks like.
This is what $10,000 in $100 dollars bills look like, it is less than a 1/2 inch thick.
This is what $1,000,000 looks like. It could fit in a shopping bag. You would still be considered a pauper among the rich in today's world;
$100 million is a little more respectable. It fits neatly on a standard pallet..
$1 BILLION dollars. Now we are talking about some real money. Double what you see and you can imagine the what the fine levied against HSBC looked like.
ONE TRILLION dollars. What is a trillion dollars? Well, it's a million million. It's a thousand billion. It's a one followed by 12 zeros. Picture in you mind that photo of $1Trillion dollars would look like if you mutilpled it by 2 1/2 times. That would roughly be the amount of assets of BSBC.
Notice that the pallets are double stacked and notice the guy standing at the bottom left corner to give you a perspective.
If those visuals don't give you a better understanding of how much a $Trillion is, consider that you would have to spend $570 dollars every hour for 24 hours a day since homo sapiens started walking on this earth 200,000 years ago.
If that doesn't do it for you, consider the number given in the story of a guy on the street that had $100 in his pocket and broke the law. If he was fined by the ratio of assets to fine that was used in the HSBC case, he would be fined 7 cents. Not likely to be much of a deterrent.
Words are powerful weapons, be careful how you use them.