The lyrics, written by drummer Neil Peart, reflect on the power of "big money" and the sheer magnitude of trade in the modern global economy, particularly during the 1980s. Regarding the idea that the song's lyrics were inspired by a John Dos Passos book of the same name, Peart replied "I am a big fan of Dos Passos’ stylistic ability, his poetic approach to prose, but the ideas presented in the songs are quite different from those which he exemplified." - Neil Peart, "Backstage Club Newsletter", January 1988.
The video for the track was directed by Rob Quartly, produced by Allan Weinrib, Geddy Lee's brother, and created by Green Light Productions, using state-of-the-art (at the time) computer graphics similar to those seen in the video for "Money for Nothing", performed by Dire Straits. The video also features the band performing the song on a giant Monopoly-style game board with the words "Big Money" in the middle. A full-length version of the video was included on the VHS and laserdisc releases of Rush's A Show of Hands tour concert film, while an edited version was released to MTV and other outlets, as well as on the short-lived CD Video format, directed by Allan Weinrib.
The car featured in the animated intro has a license plate that reads "Mr. Big", a reference to producer Peter Collins, who produced Power Windows.
When performed live, many of the synths and sound effects heard in the original track are triggered through pedals and switches used by bassist Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson plus Peart's electronic drum pads. The song has been performed live during the band's Power Windows Tour and the Hold Your Fire Tour (the latter of which was released on the band's 1989 live album A Show of Hands). The song would be performed during most of Rush's later tours, including the Vapor Trails Tour, and, most recently, the Clockwork Angels Tour.