One factor in the poor reporting of economics is the innumeracy of many reporters. Most people have trouble getting big numbers straight–distinguishing millions from billions, for example. Unfortunately, so do many reporters, even those who report economic news. Today’s New York Times has a glaring instance of innumeracy. In a report on the New York state government’s budget and New York’s governor David A. Paterson, reporter Jeremy W. Peters writes:

In August, he summoned them back to Albany and persuaded them to agree to $427 billion in cuts.

Of course, he meant $427 million, not $427 billion.