The Corner

Economy & Business

Billion, Trillion, Whatever

An amusing correction in the New York Times, where ace reporter Reid Epstein was off only by a factor of 1,000:

An earlier version of this article misstated the size of Democrats’ social policy bill in Congress. It is $3.5 trillion, not $3.5 billion.

There’s a widespread impression that in these matters, it doesn’t really matter whether you write “billion” or “trillion” or “gozonkawonkillion,” or whatever — that these numbers just wash over readers.

For perspective: $3.5 billion would be about 10 percent of the annual budget of the Department of Energy; $3.5 trillion is quite a bit more than the GDP of the United Kingdom, the world’s fifth-largest economy.

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