Just how big is the ASX, anyway?

Believe it or not, the humble ASX is actually pretty damn big – as of December 4th, it has a market cap of $2,466,617,359,800. If you find that number to be a little difficult to parse, try writing it in text: two-trillion-four-hundred-and-sixty-six-billion-six-hundred-and-seventeen-million-three-hundred-and-fifty-nine-thousand-eight-hundred-dollars.

Below is a bubble chart showing all 2193 companies currently listed on the ASX sized in proportion to their market cap. You can hover over individual bubbles to see the full name of the company and its market cap.

As the bubble chart indicates, the vast bulk of the ASX is made up of just a handful of companies. In fact, the top 27 companies, a mere 1.2% of the ~2200 listed, account for over 50% of the total market cap:

The ASX 300, or 300 biggest companies by market cap, accounts for over 91% of the total, which is what popular index funds like VAS track; rather than buying shares in all 2193 companies, they just buy the biggest few hundred because the vast majority of publicly listed companies are such ‘small fish’. Small fish of course being a relative term – a company needs to be worth close to a billion dollars to make it into the ASX 300.

For example, The Reject Shop (TRS) with its 350 stores and nearly 6000 employees has a market cap of a mere $273 million, putting it in 557th place, not even on the radar of a typical index fund, and completely dwarfed by the current top dog, CBA:

Sadly the label won’t actually fit on The Reject Shop’s circle above because of its relative size to The Commonwealth Bank.

But don’t let that go to your head, CBA holders. You’re a big fish in a small pond, but you’re a tiny fish in a big pond. Plankton, really. Here’s the ASX next to Apple, the world’s largest publicly traded company:

Yes, you’re seeing that right – Apple is about 20% larger than the combined market cap of every Australian company put together. Here’s how things look when we add in 7 more of the world’s largest companies:

All of Australia’s public companies put together are roughly equivalent to a Microsoft or an Amazon, but significantly smaller than both Apple and Saudi Arabia’s ARAMCO.

Finally, here’s how the ASX looks next to some other exchanges.

As the visualisation shows, the ASX’s total 2.4T market cap pales into insignificance compared to the 38T and 17.4T market caps of the NYSE and Nasdaq.

According to the World Federation of Exchanges, the collective market capitalisation of the world’s stock exchanges is around 95 trillion US dollars, meaning the entire ASX represents well under 2% of the planet’s publicly listed companies.

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