Today is a great World Cup day. The two teams for which I am rooting are playing—thankfully not yet against each other. Later this afternoon England takes on Colombia. But this morning Sweden will play Switzerland. (Neutrality is no longer an option.) And in the spirit of Sweden, I figured I would return to my winter trip to Stockholm and dig out a graphic. This one seemed particularly relevant.
It may be difficult to read, because it is in Swedish along with being large, but it shows medieval trade routes connecting Sweden to Europe. For example, Stockholm received cloth from East Anglia in modern-day England and from Bruges in Flanders, beer from modern-day Germany, and wine from modern day France and Spain.
Even in the Medieval period, international trade was vital to the economies of the emerging European cities and states.
Credit for the piece goes to the Medieval Museum design department.
Yesterday we looked at trade with China. Today, we look at Canada, allegedly ripping off America. But what does the data say? Thankfully the Washington Post put together a piece looking at just that topic. And it uses a few interesting graphics to explore the idea.
The easiest and least controversial graphic is that below, which breaks down constituent parts of our bilateral trade.
Note that the graphic does not just show the traditional goods part of the equation, but also breaks out services. And as soon as you consider that part of the economy the US trade deficit with Canada turns from deficit into surplus.
But the graphic also uses a pair of maps to look at that same goods vs. goods and services split.
Parts of the design of the map like the colours, meh. But the designers did a great job by breaking the standard convention of placing the Prime Meridian at the centre of the map. Instead, because the United States is the story here, the map places North America at the map’s centre. It does lead to a weird fracturing of the Asian continent, but so long as China is largely intact, that is all that matters to the trade story.
This all just goes to show that it is important to begin a conversation about policy with facts and understand the actual starting point rather than the perceived starting point.
Following up on yesterday’s post about the facts on tariffs, today we look at an article from Politico that polled voters on their feelings about trade and trade policy. Now the poll dates from the beginning of June and unfortunately a lot of things have changed since then. But, the data overwhelmingly supports the conclusion that voters, at that time at least, do not support placing tariffs on goods coming into the US.
Let’s take a look at another component of the article, however, a chart exploring the infamous trade deficit. First of all, trade deficits do not work like how the president says they do—but we will come back to that in another post. In short, trade deficits are neither good nor bad. They are just one way of describing one facet of a trade relationship between two countries.
This piece looks at the trade balance between the United States and China.
Now, from the topical standpoint, it does a really nice job of showcasing how our imports have surged above our experts. From a topical standpoint, however, we do not know if this is a total trade deficit or just in goods, like the president prefers to talk about, or in goods and services, the latter of which accounts for way more than half of the US economy.
From a design perspective, I have a few thoughts and the first is labelling. The chart does label the endpoints of the data set, 1985 and 2017. But aside from a grey bar representing the Financial Crisis, there are few other markers to indicate the year. In smaller charts, I often do this myself, because space. But here there is enough space for at least a few intervening years to be labelled.
Secondly, the white outline of the red line. I have talked before of a trend to showcase a line over other lines with that thin stroke. But this is the first time I can recall the effect being used over an area filled with colour. Is it necessary? Because the area is light and the line dark and bright, probably not.
Then the outline appears on the text in the graphic, in particular the labels of imports, exports, and the trade deficit label. The labels for the imports and exports likely are necessary because of that light grey used for the text. But, as with the line for the trade deficit, its label likely provides sufficient contrast the thin white outline isn’t necessary.
Unless you avoid the news, we all heard a lot about tariffs this weekend. So this morning, instead of going with some other things I found, I decided I wanted to look and see just what the data is on tariffs. Turns out Trump is wrong on the data about tariffs. In short, in 2016 the US had a slightly higher average tariff for all products at 1.61%. The EU was at 1.6%. And the Canadians? They charged an outrageous 0.8%.
The data comes from the World Bank.
And over breakfast, I did not really have the time to clean this graphic up, so it shows the whole world. Though it goes to show you, the western countries against which Trump raged this weekend generally have low tariffs, some lower than what the US.
Off of yesterday’s piece looking at the potential slowdown in British economic growth post-Brexit, I wanted to look at a piece from the Economist exploring the state of the UK’s current trade deals.
I understand what is going on, with the size of the bubbles relating to British exports and the colour to the depth of the free trade deal, i.e. how complex, thorough, and wide-ranging. But the grouping by quadrant?
With trade, geographical proximity is a factor. Things that come from farther cost more because fuel, labour time, &c. One of the advantages the UK currently has is the presence of a massive market on its doorstep with which it already has tariff- and customs-less trade—the European Union.
Consequently, could the graphic somehow incorporate the element of distance? The problem would be how to account for routes, modes of transport, time—how long does a lorry have to queue at the border, for example. Alas, I do not have a great answer.
Regardless of my concepts, this piece does show how the most valuable trade partners already enjoy the deepest and largest trade deals, all through the European Union. And so the UK will need to work to replicate those deals with all of these various countries.
Credit for the piece goes the Economist Data Team.
Today’s post is, I think, the first time I’ve featured the Politico on my blog. Politico is, I confess, a regular part of my daily media diet. But I never thought of it as a great publication for data visualisation. Maybe that is changing?
Anyway, today’s post highlights an article on how the Irish shipping/logistics industry could be affected by Brexit. To do so, they looked at data sets including destinations, port volume, and travel times. Basically, the imposition of customs controls at the Irish border will mean increased travelling times, which are not so great for time-sensitive shipments.
This screenshot if of an animated .gif showing how pre-Brexit transit was conducted through the UK to English Channel ports and then on into the continent. Post-Brexit, to maintain freedom of movement, freight would have to transit the Irish Sea and then the English Channel before arriving on the continent. The piece continues with a few other charts.
My only question would be, is the animation necessary? From the scale of the graphic—it is rather large—we can see an abstracted shape of the European coastlines—that is to say it’s rather angular. I wonder if a tighter cropping on the route and then subdividing the space into three different ‘options’ would have been at least as equally effective.
Credit for the piece goes to Politico’s graphics department.
On Thursday President Trump announced that the Commerce Department would investigate imports of steel to the United States. This falls under the Buy American campaign pledge. A lot of talk in the media is, of course, about the threat of Chinese steel to the United States. So I dug into the Census Bureau’s website and found their data on steel imports.
Well, it turns out that steel imports were already down by over 5 million tons before Trump took office. And from 2015 to 2016, China fell sharply from 7th to 10th in a ranking of our import partners. In fact the only country from whom we import significant amounts of steel to see a rise over that period was Mexico.
But we’ll probably need their steel to build the wall to keep out their steel.
I visualised the data in this datagraphic. Enjoy. And look for a later post today in the usual, light-hearted vein.
Credit for the data goes to the US Census Burea. The graphic is mine.
Pardon the title, but don’t mind the graphic. Sometimes ranking charts tell the story well. The Wall Street Journal has a graphic supporting a larger article about fish. And while I am not sure that I understand the reason behind the colours, they do make it quite clear that catfish is not nearly as popular as it used to be. Unfortunately the article is behind the pay wall, but broadly it appears that the fish on the move here might be banned from the US.
Credit for the piece goes to the Wall Street Journal graphics department.
One of the possible set of sanctions against Russia by the United States and European Union would impact the country’s defence industries. This chart by the Economist shows how that might not have the most impact. Most of Russia’s arms exports go to China, India, and Algeria. None of whom are the United States or European Union.
Clearly I don’t love the pie charts. I would much rather have seen segmentation within the bars. Or a full-on Sankey diagram. But, the story is still worth telling.