economics

117 posts
When the pie chart is more complex than the data

The trading house, Charles Schwab, included the following graphic in a recent article: This graphic is more complicated than the story that it illustrates. The author describes a simple scenario in which an investor divides his investments into stocks, bonds and cash. After a stock crash, the value of the portfolio declines. The graphic is a 3-D pie chart, in which the data are encoded twice, first in the areas...

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Visualizing black unemployment in the U.S.

In a prior post, I explained how the aggregate unemployment rate paints a misleading picture of the employment situation in the United States. Even though the U3 unemployment rate in 2019 has returned to the lowest level we have seen in decades, the aggregate statistic hides some concerning trends. There is an alarming rise in the proportion of people considered "not in labor force" by the Bureau of Labor Statistics...

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Designs of two variables: map, dot plot, line chart, table

The New York Times found evidence that the richest segments of New Yorkers, presumably those with second or multiple homes, have exited the Big Apple during the early months of the pandemic. The article (link) is amply assisted by a variety of data graphics. The first few charts represent different attempts to express the headline message. Their appearance in the same article allows us to assess the relative merits of...

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Consumption patterns during the pandemic

The impact of Covid-19 on the economy is sharp and sudden, which makes for some dramatic data visualization. I enjoy reading the set of charts showing consumer spending in different categories in the U.S., courtesy of Visual Capitalist. The designer did a nice job cleaning up the data and building a sequential story line. The spending are grouped by categories such as restaurants and travel, and then sub-categories such as...

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The elusive meaning of black paintings and red blocks

Joe N, a longtime reader, tweeted about the following chart, by the People's Policy Project: This is a simple column chart containing only two numbers, far exceeded by the count of labels and gridlines. I look at charts like the lady staring at these Ad Reinhardts:   My artist friends say the black squares are not the same, if you look hard enough. Here is what I learned after one...

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How the pandemic affected employment of men and women

In the last post, I looked at the overall employment situation in the U.S. Here is the trend of the "official" unemployment rate since 1990. I was talking about the missing 100 million. These are people who are neither employed nor unemployed in the eyes of the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). They are simply unrepresented in the numbers shown in the chart above. This group is visualized in my...

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The missing 100 million: how the pandemic reveals the fallacy of not in labor force

Last Friday, the U.S. published the long-feared employment situation report. It should come as no surprise to anyone since U.S. businesses were quick to lay off employees since much of the economy was shut down to abate the spread of the coronavirus. I've been following employment statistics for a while. Chapter 6 of Numbersense (link) addresses the statistical aspects of how the unemployment rate is computed. The title of the...

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Graphing the extreme

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about extremes. So many events have never happened before. I doubt The Conference Board has previously seen the collapse of confidence in the economy by CEOs. Here is their graphic showing this extreme event: To appreciate this effort, you have to see the complexity of the underlying data. There is a CEO Confidence Measure. The measure has three components. Each component is scored on a...

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An exposed seam in the crystal ball of coronavirus recovery

One of the questions being asked by the business community is when the economy will recover and how. The Conference Board has offered their outlook in this new article. (This link takes you to the collection of Covid-19 related graphics. You have to find the right one from the carousel. I can't seem to find the direct link to that page.) This chart summarizes their viewpoint: They considered three scenarios,...

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Graphing the economic crisis of coronavirus 2

Last week, I discussed Ray's chart that compares the S&P 500 performance in this crisis against previous crises. A reminder: Another useful feature is the halo around the right edge of the COVID-19 line. This device directs our eyes to where he wants us to look. In the same series, he made the following for The Conference Board (link): Two things I learned from this chart: The oil market takes...

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