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. Amount Weyerhaeuser is distributing to shareholders via a special dividend as it converts to a REIT, a move that will shield most of its earnings from taxes: $5.6 billion

  2. Percent by which the average gain in stock price for United Airlines, McDonald's, Motorola, and Trans Union (13.2%) outperformed the S&P 500 (6%) 30 days following the lunch their CEOs had with President Obama on March 9, 2010: 120%

  3. Of the seven CEOs invited to dine with President Obama at the White House in 2009 and 2010, the number that have seen their organizations' shares outperform the S&P 500: 5

  4. Average salary of employees at Goldman Sachs in 2010: $544,000

  5. Amount of fine, the largest ever imposed by the SEC, against Goldman Sachs for failing to provide vital information to clients about a CDO called Abacus 2007: $550 million

  6. The expected amount of money that the average worker is expected to amass in a 401(k) retirement plan given ideal conditions over 30 years: $400,000

  7. Actual average due to 401(k) “leaks” (withdrawals, borrowing, etc.) over 30 years: $60,000

  8. Average number of annual stock-splits for S&P 500 companies over the past 50 years: 49

  9. Number so far in 2010, up from only 1 in 2009: 3

  10. Of 17 stocks in the S&P 500 that closed at more than $100 as of June 30, 2010, the number that have never been split (AutoZone, CME Group Inc., First Solar, Goldman Sachs Group, Google, IntercontinentalExchange and Mastercard): 7

  11. Fee to process a petition for a foreigner seeking to live in the U.S. guaranteeing to invest at least $500,000 and creating at least 10 jobs, up $65 in 2010: $1,500

  12. Total insured value that the 175-year-old FM Global covers for clients such as Caterpillar, GlaxoSmithKline, and Hasbro: $8 billion

  13. Revenue of FM Global in 2009: $3.6 billion

  14. Total amount of direct premiums written by U.S. insurance companies for commercial property in 2009: $475 billion

  15. Average annual pension income for U.S. retirees: $28,437

  16. For Luxembourg, Britain, and Spain, respectively: $37,630, $22,053, $15,505

  17. Rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage in July 2010, the lowest since Freddie Mac started keeping track in 1971: 4.58%

  18. Proportion of homeowners with mortgages in excess of $1 million that are “seriously delinquent:” 1 out of 7

  19. Proportion with mortgages of less than $1 million: 1 out of 12

  20. Number of barrels of whiskey and scotch transferred by Diageo, maker of Johnnie Walker blended whiskey and Talisker, single malt scotch, to its pension fund to help cure a pension deficit: 2.5 million

  21. The value of global debt offerings in the first half of 2010, 39 percent less than the same period in 2009: $1.17 trillion

  22. Additional income, relative to existing salary, required by a job relocation to make up for the decrease in happiness that the average employee experiences when he or she leaves family, friends, and existing support network: $133,000

  23. Price of the new Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Super Sport, the fastest (268 mph) street-legal car available in the U.S.: $2.5 million

  24. Rank of Facebook, with 500 million citizens, among the most populous nations in the world: third

  25. Amount that Facebook litigant Paul Ceglia will get if his claim of 84 percent of the company's value is upheld, based on the average of five valuations ($9 billion to $42 billion) of Facebook in July: $15 billion

  26. Americans over the age of 65 who have been the victims of a financial scam, at a cost of $2.6 billion per year: 1 out of 5

  27. Number of years of the last nine that tech stocks trailed the S&P 500: 7

Sources: 1-3 Business Week; 4 New York Times; 5 Reuters; 6-7 New School for Social Research, Teresa Ghilarducci; 8-9 Standard & Poor's; 10 Bloomberg; 11 U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; 12-14 Highline Data; 15-16 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development; 17-19 Freddie Mac; 20 Wall Street Journal; 21 Bloomberg; 22 The University of London, Prof. Nattavudh Powdthavee; 23 Automotive News; 24 Facebook; 25 Registered Rep.; 26 Investor Protection Trust, Washington D.C., MetLife; 27 Bloomberg.