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What $700 billion could buy your company

With the government poised to spend big to rescue Wall Street, we examine what else that amount of money could buy

By Brad Reed, Network World
September 23, 2008 11:47 AM ET

Network World - Late last week, the Bush administration unveiled a staggering plan to bail out the financial industry by having the federal government purchase $700 billion in unwanted mortgages and mortgage-backed securities. For those of you keeping score at home, this means the government could soon spend nearly $1 trillion on what amounts to a large pile of trash. To give you some perspective on just how large this sum of money is, we've broken down what sort of assets your company could purchase with $700 billion, including wireless communications devices, data centers and even new CEOs. (View a slideshow version of this story.)

3.5 billion iPhones (Cost = $200 each)

Let's put it like this: the money being used in the government's bailout plan is enough to buy at least two iPhones for every citizen of China. And because our government will likely pay for its plan by selling more and more treasury bonds to the Chinese government, the idea of a Universal iPhone Plan is not out of the realm of possibility. If only that money could be used by AT&T to ensure no more data outages on its 3G network…

28 million CX1 supercomputers (Cost = $25k each)

Earlier this month, Microsoft and Cray announced that they would be selling their own personalized CX1 supercomputer for $25,000. And while they probably never imagined this computer being purchased in bulk, the U.S. government's bailout plan could buy them by the millions and use them to give our nation's public school students the most up-to-date high-speed computing technology. Unfortunately, however, the government's money is going to purchase worthless adjustable-rate mortgages instead.

233,333 Super Bowl ads (Cost = $3 million each)

With more than 90 million viewers every year, the Super Bowl has long been the Holy Grail for television advertisers. Indeed, as Pets.com learned, there is no better way to announce that you've "made it" in the corporate world than by getting a well-placed spot on during commercial breaks of America's biggest sporting event. And with $700 billion at its disposal, your company could buy up every ad space in the Super Bowl for centuries to come.

400 space shuttles (Cost = $1.7 billion each)

It's time to face facts: when our government is spending $700 billion to take junk off of Wall Street balance sheets, our system has failed pretty spectacularly. For those of you who are understandably inclined to think that life on this planet is basically doomed in the wake of the financial meltdown, $700 billion could buy you 400 space shuttles to move your family, friends and business partners to another planet to start civilization over again.

1,944 IBM cloud computing data centers (Cost = $360 billion each)

This past summer, IBM revealed that it was sinking $360 million into a massive cloud computing data center that would be designed to give customers "unparalleled access to massive Internet-scale computing capabilities." With 60,000 square feet of raised floor space to play with, IBM expects that this data center will be the most sophisticated ever built and will specialize in utilizing cloud computing and server virtualization to deliver the next generation of technology services. But even with all this going for it, the IBM data center is no match for the government's bailout plan, as IBM could construct nearly 2,000 more of these data centers if it had the resources that are being proposed to rescue Wall Street firms.

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