The Economies of Europe

Cyprus has been in the news over the course of this past week because its financial system almost brought the country to bankruptcy. And that has meant trouble for European markets. So now it’s time to look at the economies of Europe once again. And the National Post has done a great job using clear and concise small multiples to examine key metrics for the ten largest European economies—not necessarily EU economies mind you. But at the end of each row, they summed up the country’s outlook in just one or two sentences.

Cropping of the overview for Europe's largest economies
Cropping of the overview for Europe's largest economies

Credit for the piece goes to Richard Johnson, Grant Ellis, John Shmuel, and Andrew Barr.

Pro Tip #314: Don’t Stare Into the Sun

Don’t stare into the sun. It’ll burn your eyes out, kid. Okay, so maybe that’s a stretch of a reference, but, seriously, don’t. Let the professionals do it with (properly shielded) telescopes and such. This piece from the New York Times looks at a solar flare from 2012 and shows how quickly it developed. The bottom of the piece then shows the reader the frequency of solar minimums and maximums along with some explanatory graphics about just what flares and sunspots are and how they are created.

Also note the centre panel in the top row for the relative size of Earth. Yeah, who’s feeling big now? (Not me.)

Don't stare into it…
Don't stare into it…

Credit for the piece goes to Jonathan Corum.

2012 Was the Hottest Year on Record

2012 was the hottest year since 1895. That’s 117 years by my count. Of course just being the hottest year ever recorded does not mean everywhere was warmer than usual. Some places were cooler. And the New York Times looked at the US pattern of warmer and cooler than average temperatures. Below the map are small multiples of charts recording the number of days above or below the normal for that day.

That's a lot of warmer than average temperatures…
That's a lot of warmer than average temperatures…

And for anecdotal evidence, I will say that this past summer was godawfully hot in Chicago.

Congressional Redistricting

The New York Times looks at who controlled the redistricting of US congressional seats because of the 2010 census. It then showed an example in North Carolina where Republican control led to the state being less competitive in the past for Democrats. In 2010, Democrats held 7/13 seats in North Carolina. But after the redistricting, in 2012 the Democrats held only 4/13. And all of this is done in a small, compact space. This is a very effective graphic.

Redistricting
Redistricting

Credit for the piece goes to Tom Giratikanon.

Canadian Debt

Canada, along with Australia, was one of the few Western, industrialised economies to weather the global recession of 2008 fairly well. However in recent years, despite the economic boom in the energy-rich western provinces, many of Canada’s provinces have been accumulating substantial—though not yet crippling—levels of debt. Toronto’s National Post explores the federal and provincial situation using small (or perhaps medium-sized) multiples.

Canada's debt
Canada's debt

Credit for the piece goes to Richard Johnson.

Palestine

With Palestine admitted to the United Nations as a non-member observer state, the Middle East tensions between Israel and Palestine have reached a new level. Regardless, Palestine may now have access to international institutions and is closer to being a recognised, sovereign state. Toronto’s National Post published a large infographic looking at the state of Palestine and how the two non-contiguous territories of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip compare to each other.

An infographic looking at Palestine
An infographic looking at Palestine

Credit for the piece goes to Richard Johnson.

Taxes

Let’s face it, governments need money to function. If you want a large military, you have to fund it. If you want pension system, you have to fund it. If you want medical care for the old, the sick, and the poor, you have to fund it. If you want to give everyone unicorns made of rainbow beams, you have to fund it. And…well…nevermind.

The point is taxes. After an election that focused so heavily on them, we’re still debating them. But here are some facts about them from the New York Times. The designers, Mike Bostock, Matthew Ericson, and Robert Gebeloff used small multiples of line charts—and lots of them—to look at who pays taxes by income band and how they pay different types of taxes. I found particularly interesting the points made near the bottom of the piece about how the progressive tax system is increasingly less so.

How the American tax system is becoming less progressive
How the American tax system is becoming less progressive

But how do these taxes compare to spending? In a separate graphic for the same article, a stacked bar chart compares revenue to expenditure. With the exception of the balanced budget during President Clinton’s administration, we have been outspending our revenue since 1980. While statements to the effect of the US national budget needs to be managed like a US household budget are both overly simplistic and naive, there is a truth in a long-term mismatch between revenue and expenditure might cause problems. That is why many see the deficit and our debt as a medium-term problem facing the United States.

Spending versus revenue
Spending versus revenue

Credit for the first piece goes to Mike Bostock, Matthew Ericson, and Robert Gebeloff.

Maps Are Not Silver Bullets

I make a lot of maps in my line of work. Often times, they are not particularly interesting. Mostly because they follow similar patterns to this. More stuff is bought and sold where there are more people. More stuff is bought and sold where more people have more money. Et cetera, et cetera.

Maps are not always helpful
Maps are not always helpful

Maps are sometimes very useful. But I have a saying when people ask for a map of some kind of data tied to geographies: Maps are not silver bullets. That is to say, just because you throw data about countries, states, or counties onto a map does not mean you are going to see anything worthwhile let alone new or unexpected.

Credit for the XKCD piece goes to Randall Munroe

Playing in the Swing States

The 2012 elections are now less than two weeks away and so let the sporting analogies begin. We’re in the home stretch now. Homeruns, field goals, and running out the clock. Et cetera et cetera ad nauseam.

But over at the New York Times we have an interactive piece that looks at what they call the state of play of the swing states in terms of the latest tracking polls at a state level along with campaign stops and commentary from the paper. It’s a concise way to look at those few states that will largely determine the outcome of the election.

Swing states
Swing states

The Red Sox Were Truly Awful in 2012

The Boston Red Sox hired John Farrell this weekend to be their manager just one season after hiring Bobby Valentine for the role. There is a lot to be said about just who is to blame about the Red Sox’ awful season. But it was pretty awful. How awful? The Boston Globe shows us in this interactive piece.

It’s a series of small multiples of line charts. However, one of the big problems with the infographic is that the labels are entirely absent. As best I can tell the line is the number of games over .500, i.e. an even split between wins and losses. But, it could be more clearly called out if not in the legend or on the axes than in the title.

But over all it does put this past season into a sober perspective.

How Bad is Bad? Awful, it Turns Out.
How Bad is Bad? Awful, it Turns Out.

Credit for the piece goes to Daigo Fujiwara.