Finance

42 posts
Steel tariffs, and my new dataviz seminar

I am developing a new seminar aimed at business professionals who want to improve their ability to communicate using charts. I want any guidance to be tool-agnostic, so that attendees can implement them using Excel if that’s their main charting software. Over the 12+ years that I’ve been blogging, certain ideas keep popping up; and I have collected these motifs and organized them for the seminar. This post is about...

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The tech world in which everyone is below average

Laura pointed me to an infographic about tech worker salaries in major tech hubs (link). What's wrong with this map? The box "Global average" is doubly false. It is not global, and it is not the average! The only non-American cities included in this survey are Toronto, Paris and London. The only city with average salary above the "Global average" is San Francisco Bay Area. Since the Bay Area does...

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Why line charts are better than area charts

I saw this chart on Business Insider recently: This links to Market Insider, where there is a tool to make different types of charts. Despite the huge drop depicted above, by last week, the Dow Jones index has recovered to the level at the start of 2018: The same chart can be made as an area chart (called a "mountain chart" by Market Insider). The painting of the area serves...

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A look at how the New York Times readers look at the others

The above chart, when it was unveiled at the end of November last year, got some mileage on my Twitter feed so it got some attention. A reader, Eric N., didn't like it at all, and I think he has a point. Here are several debatable design decisions. The chart uses an inverted axis. A tax cut (negative growth) is shown on the right while a tax increase is shown...

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The visual should be easier to read than your data

A reader sent this tip in some time ago and I lost track of who he/she is. This graphic looks deceptively complex. What's complex is not the underlying analysis. The design is complex and so the decoding is complex. The question of the graphic is a central concern of anyone who's retired: how long will one's savings last? There are two related metrics to describe the durability of the stash,...

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Fifty-nine intersections supporting forty dots of data

My friend Ray V. asked how this chart can be improved: Let's try to read this chart. The Economist is always the best at writing headlines, and this one is simple and to the point: the rich get richer. This is about inequality but not just inequality - the growth in inequality over time. Each country has four dots, divided into two pairs. From the legend, we learn that the...

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Getting into the heads of the chart designer

When I look at this chart (from Business Insider), I try to understand the decisions made by its designer - which things are important to her/him, and which things are less important. The chart shows average salaries in the top 2 percent of income earners. The data are split by gender and by state. First, I notice that the designer chooses to use the map form. This decision suggests that...

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The salaries are attractive but the chart isn’t

The only reason why the IEEE Spectrum magazine editors chose this chart form is because they think they need to deliver precise salary figures to readers. This chart is just so... sad. The color scheme is all wrong, the black suggesting a funeral. The printed data occupying at least half of the width of each bar frustrate any attempt to compare lengths. We enter an unusual place where higher numbers...

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Another simple Excel chart needs help

Twitter friend Jimmy A. asked if I can help Elon Musk make this chart "more readable". Let's start with a couple of things he did right. Placing SpaceX, his firm's data, at the bottom of the chart is perfect, as the bottom part of a stacked column chart is the only part that is immediately readable. Combining all of Europe into one category and Other U.S. into one group reduce...

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Some like it packed, some like it piled, and some like it wrapped

In addition to Xan's "packed bars" (which I discussed here), there are some related efforts to improve upon the treemap. To recap, treemap is a design to show parts against the whole, and it works by packing rectangles into the bounding box. Frequently, this leads to odd-shaped rectangles, e.g. really thin and really tall ones, and it asks readers to estimate relative areas of differently-scaled boxes. We often make mistakes...

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