Magazine January 26, 2009, Issue

Twelve Zeroes

President Barack Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in the Oval Office, Washington, D.C., January 29, 2009 (Jim Young/Reuters)
As incomprehensible sums are allocated to no particular purpose . . .

For Britons of a certain age, the defining moment of the pre-Thatcher years came in 1976 when the chancellor of the exchequer, Denis Healey, was forced to go cap in hand to the International Monetary Fund and seek a loan — just like any old president-for-life of one of those bankrupt banana republics dear old Bono is always urging debt relief for. But I wonder how many Brits remember the precise figure of the humungous wad of dosh Chancellor Healey so desperately needed to rescue his flailing nation?

Four billion dollars.

Bailing out a G7 economy has gotten a little pricier since

Mark Steyn is an international bestselling author, a Top 41 recording artist, and a leading Canadian human-rights activist.

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