Business

98 posts
One of the most frequently produced maps is also one of the worst

Summer is here, many Americans are putting the pandemic in their rear-view mirrors, and gas prices are soaring. Business Insider told the story using this map: What do we want to learn about gas prices this summer? Which region has the highest / lowest prices? How much higher / lower than the national average are the regional prices? How much has prices risen, compared to last year, or compared to...

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Did prices go up or down? Depends on how one looks at the data

The U.S. media have been flooded with reports of runaway inflation recently, and it's refreshing to see a nice article in the Wall Street Journal that takes a second look at the data. Because as my readers know, raw data can be incredibly deceptive. Inflation typically describes the change in price level relative to the prior year. The month-on-month change in price levels is a simple seasonal adjustment used to...

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Plotting the signal or the noise

Antonio alerted me to the following graphic that appeared in the Economist. This is a playful (?) attempt to draw attention to racism in the game of football (soccer). The analyst proposed that non-white players have played better in stadiums without fans due to Covid19 in 2020 because they have not been distracted by racist abuse from fans, using Italy's Serie A as the case study. The chart struggles to...

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Losses trickle down while gains trickle up

In a rich dataset, it's hard to convey all the interesting insights on a single chart. Following up on the previous post, I looked further at the wealth distribution dataset. In the previous post, I showed this chart, which indicated that the relative wealth of the super-rich (top 1%) rose dramatically around 2011. As a couple of commenters noticed, that's relative wealth. I indiced everything to the Bottom 50%. In...

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Atypical time order and bubble labeling

This chart appeared in a Charles Schwab magazine in Summer, 2019. This bubble chart does not print any data labels. The bubbles take our attention but the designer realizes that the actual values of the volatility are not intuitive numbers. The same is true of any standard deviation numbers. If you're told SD of a data series is 3, it doesn't tell you much by itself. I first transformed this...

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This holiday retailers hope it will snow dollars

According to the Conference Board, the pandemic will not deter U.S. consumers from emptying their wallets this holiday season. Here's a chart that shows their expectation (link):   A few little things make this chart work: The "More" category is placed on the left, as English-speaking countries tend to be read Left-to-Right, and it is also given the deepest green, drawing our attention. Only the "More" segments have data labels....

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Book Review: Visualizing with Text by Richard Barth

The creative process is sometimes described in terms of diverge-converge cycles. The diverge step involves experimentation and rewards suspending disbelief, while excesses are curbed and concepts refined during the converge step. Richard Brath's just-released book Visualizing with Text is an important resource that expands our appreciation for the place of text in visual displays. Books on data visualization fall into recognizable types, of which two popular ones are the style...

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Locating the political center

I mentioned the September special edition of Bloomberg Businessweek on the election in this prior post. Today, I'm featuring another data visualization from the magazine. *** Here are the rightmost two charts. Time runs from top to bottom, spanning four decades. Each chart covers a political issue. These two charts concern abortion and marijuana. The marijuana question (far right) has only two answers, legalize or don't legalize. The underlying data...

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Making better pie charts if you must

I saw this chart on an NYU marketing twitter account: The graphical design is not easy on our eyes. It's just hard to read for various reasons. The headline sounds like a subject line from an email. The subheaders are long, and differ only by a single word. Even if one prefers pie charts, they can be improved by following a few guidelines. First, start the first sector at the...

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Putting vaccine trials in boxes

Bloomberg Businessweek has a special edition about vaccines, and I found this chart on the print edition: The chart's got a lot of white space. Its structure is a series of simple "treemaps," one for each type of vaccine. Though simple, such a chart burns a few brain cells. Here, I've extracted the largest block, which corresponds to vaccines that work with the virus's RNA/DNA. I applied a self-sufficiency test,...

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