Big, Bigger, Biggest

The year in numbers: So you think you know the news?

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Numbers are the stock in trade of news junkies, but they have gotten absurdly large. A million of anything, especially dollars, isn't much anymore, and the word billion is creeping into more and more stories. We are getting into the realm of astronomers.

For one reason or another, these numbers caught my eye this year. If you know all the answers to this quiz, you should quit that blog and start writing a column.

1) Corporate compensation has a new wrinkle in addition to eight-figure salaries, country club memberships, and stock options: payment of income taxes. How much is Regions Financial CEO Jackson Moore getting from a merger buyout of Union Planters Bank? A) $5 million, B) $15 million, C) $27 million.

2) The biggest trial of the year in Memphis, at least in terms of publicity, was the federal trial of Alabama football booster Logan Young, which was the subject of more than 400 newspaper stories in 2005. What was the total combined prison term of Young and co-conspirators Lynn Lang and Milton Kirk? A) seven years, B) three years, C) six months.

3) In its busiest day ever, December 19th, FedEx handled how many shipments? A) 2.6 million, B) 8.9 million, C) 21 million.

4) Which corporation's stock price recently surpassed $100? A) FedEx, B) International Paper, C) AutoZone.

5) Market capitalization is the stock price of a company multiplied by the number of outstanding shares. The ratio of the market capitalization of General Motors to the market capitalization of Google is: A) 3 to 1, B) 1 to 3, C) 1 to 11.

6) The term PILOT appeared in a lot of local news stories in 2005. PILOT stands for payment in lieu of taxes. In short, it's a tax break for 595 local companies. The total annual value of the PILOTs is: A) $12 million, B) $48 million, C) $150 million.

7) The approximate bond debt of Shelby County is: A) $100 million, B) $500 million, C) $1.8 billion.

8) The Pyramid cost approximately $62 million. AutoZone Park cost approximately $72 million. FedExForum cost approximately $250 million. What is the estimated cost of a new baseball park in Washington, D.C.? A) $667 million, B) $1 billion, C) $90 million.

9) Not that long ago, a house in Memphis that was worth more than $1 million was enough of a novelty that it merited a story in Memphis magazine. According the Shelby County Assessor's Office, the number of houses in Shelby County that are currently appraised at $1 million or more is: A) 26, B) 112, C) 638.

10) The median price of a new home in Memphis is: A) $100,000, B) $150,000, C) $200,000.

11) Tennessee taxes are often in the news because reporters like to look serious once in a while and readers will bite on an occasional tax story if it reaffirms their views or makes them mad. According to the Tax Foundation, the combined state and local tax burden in Tennessee puts the Volunteer State in which position among the 50 states? A) 1st, B) 23rd, C) 47th.

12) Where does Mississippi rank in the Tax Foundation survey? A) 1st, B) 26th, C) 50th.

13) Northwest Airlines is in bankruptcy but, fortunately for Memphis air travelers, still operating. The highest 2005 quarterly loss reported by the company before it took bankruptcy was: A) $1 billion, B) $210 million, C) $450 million.

14) There are two kinds of people: lottery players and nonplayers. The Powerball Jackpot in the Tennessee Lottery in December was: A) $100 million, B) $7 million, C) $25 million.

15) If a high school student has a 29 or better on the ACT and goes to a Tennessee college or university, the maximum HOPE Scholarship award this year from lottery proceeds is: A) $2,000 a year, B) $4,300 a year, C) $6,500 a year.

16) The number of felons in Tennessee prisons and jails is: A) 26,000, B) 50,000, C) 90,000.

Answers: 1) C; 2) C; 3) B; 4) A; 5) C; 6) B; 7) C; 8) A; 9) C; 10) B; 11) C; 12) B; 13) C; 14) C; 15) B; 16) A

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