economics

85 posts
Who trades with Sweden

It's great that the UN is publishing dataviz but it can do better than this effort: Certain problems are obvious. The country names turned sideways. The meaningless use of color. The inexplicable sequencing of the country/region. Some problems are subtler. "Area, nes" - upon research - is a custom term used by UN Trade Statistics, meaning "not elsewhere specified". The gridlines are debatable. Their function is to help readers figure...

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Variance is a friend of dataviz

Seven years ago, I wrote a post about "invariance" in data visualization, which is something we should avoid (link). Yesterday, Business Insider published the following chart in an article about rising gas prices (link): The map shows the average prices at the pump in seven regions of the United States.  This chart is succeeded by the following map: This second map shows the change in average gas prices in the...

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Selecting the right analysis plan is the first step to good dataviz

It's a new term, and my friend Ray Vella shared some student projects from his NYU class on infographics. There's always something to learn from these projects. The starting point is a chart published in the Economist a few years ago. This is a challenging chart to read. To save you the time, the following key points are pertinent: a) income inequality is measured by the disparity between regional averagesb)...

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Deficient deficit depiction

A twitter user alerted me to this chart put out by the Biden adminstration trumpeting a reduction in the budget deficit from 2020 to 2021: This column chart embodies a form that is popular in many presentations, including in scientific journals. It's deficient in so many ways it's a marvel how it continues to live. There are just two numbers: -3132 and -2772. Their difference is $360 billion, which is...

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Superb tile map offering multiple avenues for exploration

Here's a beauty by WSJ Graphics: The article is here. This data graphic illustrates the power of the visual medium. The underlying dataset is complex: power production by type of source by state by month by year. That's more than 90,000 numbers. They all reside on this graphic. Readers amazingly make sense of all these numbers without much effort. It starts with the summary chart on top. The designer made...

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Dots, lines, and 2D histograms

Daniel Z. tweeted about my post from last week. In particular, he took a deeper look at the chart of energy demand that put all hourly data onto the same plot, originally published at the StackOverflow blog: I noted that this is not a great chart particularly since what catches our eyes are not the key features of the underlying data. Daniel made a clearly better chart: This is a...

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Inflation explained with eggs

The prices of everything seem to be rising a lot lately. Why? For Vox, Emily Stewart uses eggs as a case study to explain: “There are different ways of thinking about the inflation issue, and economists by default tend to think about macroeconomic issues such as inflation in macroeconomic terms,” said Isabella Weber, an economist at UMass Amherst. “In this current situation that we are facing, we basically have very...

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Ringing in the data

There is a lot of great stuff at Visual Capitalist. This circular design isn't one of their best. *** A self-sufficiency test helps diagnose the problem. Notice that every data point is printed on the diagram. If the data labels were removed, there isn't much one can learn from the chart other than the ranking of countries from most indebted to least. It would be impossible to know the difference...

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To explain or to eliminate, that is the question

Today, I take a look at another project from Ray Vella's class at NYU. (The above image is a honeypot for "smart" algorithms that don't know how to handle image dimensions which don't fit their shadow "requirement". Human beings should proceed to the full image below.) As explained in this post, the students visualized data about regional average incomes in a selection of countries. It turns out that remarkable differences...

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Displaying convoluted indices

I reviewed another batch of projects from Ray Vella's class at NYU. The following piece by Carlos Lasso made an impression on me. There are no pyrotechnics but he made one decision that added a lot of clarity to the graphic. The underlying dataset gauges the income disparity of regions within nine countries. The richest and the poorest regions are selected for each country. Two time points are shown. Altogether, there...

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