Smart decisions are based on more than government statistics, agency reports, news releases, interest rates and stock quotes. We've selected a few fascinating statistics here that illuminate the markets, the world of financial services and big business.

  1. Percent of companies that enforce bans on groups of senior execs from traveling together on the same flight: 84%

  2. Total profits earned by the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank in 2009: $46.1 billion

  3. Rank of 2009 among the bank's most profitable years on record: 1

  4. Increase in stock buybacks from 3Q to 4Q 2009: $37.2%

  5. Rank of IBM among those companies with the greatest number of patents: 1 (with 4,914 patents)

  6. Number of U.S. university presidents who currently earn more than $1 million per year: 34

  7. Number who did in 2002: 0

  8. Number of U.S. university football coaches who earn more than $1 million per year: 81

  9. Amount South Africa has spent readying for the 2010 World Cup: $4.6 billion

  10. Number of companies in 2009 with accounting problems sufficiently serious to require restatements: 674

  11. In 2006: 1,795

  12. Average reduction in reported earnings, per restatement, in 2009: $4.6 million

  13. In 2006: $23.5 million

  14. Change in total salaries and bonuses paid by UBS to its top executives, from 2008 to 2009: +892%

  15. Change in compensation for members of the UBS board of directors for the same period: -23%

  16. Change in sales per square foot, a closely watched retail marker, at The Gap, the country's largest apparel retailer, from 1999 to 2009: -40%

  17. Change in total mall square footage for the company, which also owns the Banana Republic and Old Navy, for the same period: +62%

  18. Total net worth of Americans, up 1.3% in Q4 2009: $54.2 trillion

  19. Percent by which it would have to increase to get back to the Q2 2007 prerecession peak of $65.9 trillion: 21%

  20. Rank of the U.S. among nations with the fastest internet connection speeds: 18

  21. Minimum number of members the dating site Beautiful People has expelled since December for being too fat: 5,000

  22. Number of states that saw student enrollment fall while teaching staff increased between 2001 and 2007: 12

  23. Minimum number of professionals whose job title includes the word “ninja” on their public profiles in LinkedIn: 800

  24. Total amount of Iranian money frozen to date in the U.S. under existing sanctions: $43 million

  25. Daily amount that Iran earns from oil revenue: $160 million

Sources: 1 Association of Corporate Travel Executives; 2 Federal Reserve Board of Governors; 3 Bloomberg; 4 Standard & Poor's; 5 IFI Patent Intelligence; 6-7 Chronicle of Higher Education; 8 USA Today; 9 South Africa Finance Ministry; 10-12 Audit Analytics; 13-16 Wall Street Journal; 17-18 Federal Reserve, New York Times; 19 Akaimi Research; 20 Golden Goose PR (London); 21 National Center for Educational Statistics; 22-24 Wall Street Journal