A Trillion Here A Trillion There and Soon You're Talking Real Money
I don't know if it is the huge sums which have been thrown around recently or pride in innumeracy but Edmund Andrews treats $ 200,000,000,000 as a rounding error.
In an article entitled "Fed Plans to Inject Another $1 Trillion to Aid the Economy"
(by someone else) he opens
WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve sharply stepped up its efforts to bolster the economy on Wednesday, announcing that it would pump an extra $1 trillion into the financial system by purchasing Treasury bonds and mortgage securities.
Later he writes
Since last September, the Fed’s lending programs have roughly doubled the size of its balance sheet, to about $1.8 trillion, from $900 billion. The actions announced on Wednesday are likely to expand that to well over $3 trillion over the next year.
Well over $ 3 trillion - $ 1.8 trillion = well over $ 1.2 trillion.
Well over 1.2 trillion - $ 1 trillion = well over $ 200,000,000,000 =
such a tiny sum that it can be ignored in the headline and first paragraph.
What possible justification is there for writing "an extra $1 trillion" not "more than $ 1 trillion" (assuming people have noticed that there are already some dollars) or "more than an extra $ 1 trillion" which is an ugly sentence but not an arithmetic error of well over 200,000,000,000 ?
Why does the headline inform us that the Fed is trying to help the economy. The readers who think it is trying to hurt the economy won't be convinced. Why not "Fed Plans to Inject Over $1 Trillion" or "Fed Plans to Inject More Than Another $1 Trillion" ?
Or if, for some reason, they just can't bring themselves to admit that they (and the Fed) don't know an exact figure, at least the closer approximation of $ 1.2 trillion not 1 trillion ?
What can citizens do when the Journal of Record sometimes treats $200,000,000,000 as nothing and quotes Republicans making a huge fuss over (well spent) millions ? Can't people agree that numbers matter when they are
update: Oh my, I consistently wrote 200,000,000 that is 200 million when I meant 200 billion. How very embarassing. Read the comments for the most amazingly polite correction.