How did this little factoid get lost in the shuffle? Apparently last Tuesday, amid all the ruckus of bailout news being shoved down our throats, we all neglected to take heed of one little paragraph in a Forbes article:

In fact, some of the most basic details, including the $700 billion figure Treasury would use to buy up bad debt, are fuzzy.

“It’s not based on any particular data point,” a Treasury spokeswoman told Forbes.com Tuesday. “We just wanted to choose a really large number.”

Of course last Tuesday seems like a lifetime ago, but let’s agree from now on to never be too busy to notice the arbitrary selection of a price point for possibly the most significant economic plan in our country’s history. Deal?

In retrospect though, maybe they should have gone a little more extreme in their number selection. They should have told us they needed, “I don’t know, something like 125 Fibonacci numbers worth of billion dollars.” That really would have blown our minds. Or Paulson could have just started shouting out an explanation for how many moles are in Avogadro’s number. Whatever the answer to that is, we need that many billion dollars to rescue our country’s financial system.

Where do I sign? Isn’t that what we’d all say when faced with such mind-melting financial instruments and gigantic numbers? Or at least that’s what they wanted us to think.

Forbes: Bad News For The Bailout, September 23, 2008

LAT: You won’t believe where the $700 billion number came from, September 29, 2008