What $700 billion could buy your company

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.

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.

Four Apples (Cost = $159 billion each)

No, we’re not talking about the fruit. As a company, Apple is worth roughly $159 billion. This means that if you buy four Apples with the government’s bailout plan, you’ll still have an extra $64 billion left over to buy the entire global carbon trading market. Not a bad deal either way!

Two Denmarks (GDP = $311 billion)

Who doesn’t love Denmark? As a wealthy country with a good standard of living, a miniscule murder rate and beautiful architecture, Denmark should be a staple destination for any American tourist looking to see the best of Europe. In fact, if our government wasn’t so determined to purchase hundreds of billions of dollars worth of junk securities, we could actually buy Denmark twice. At the very least, we could use some of the Danes’ coldest and most remote islands in the Baltic Sea to serve as prisons for swindling politicians and Wall Street crooks. Seems like a better investment than taking on reams of bad debt, at any rate.

12 Bill Gateses (Net worth = $58 billion each)

Is your tech company being run into the ground by an inept and incompetent CEO? Well, for a mere $58 billion you can purchase one of the most successful CEOs of all time, William Gates III! In fact, you can buy 12 of him with the government’s bailout money. And you will still have $4 billion if you want to buy the Bill Gates impersonator as well, though at this point I think he’s willing to work for hamburgers and bags of Fritos…

700 billion items from the McDonald’s dollar menu (Cost = $1 each)

If you work in Human Resource and are constantly looking for ways to keep employee morale high, try spending the government’s mortgage bailout money on a millennium’s supply of food from the McDonald’s dollar menu. From double cheeseburgers to small bags of fries to sundaes, $700 billion worth of junk food will be enough to keep any workforce satisfied.

56,000 Victoria Secret diamond and ruby encrusted bras (Cost = $12.5 million each)

What’s the fun of being a highly paid CIO if you can’t spend lavish sums of money on gifts for your significant other or yourself? While it may not give your company any sort of competitive edge, the diamond and ruby bra will ensure that your company… OK, it would be a colossal waste of money by anyone’s standards. But at least it’s more aesthetically pleasing than your typical mortgage-backed security.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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