S&P sovereign credit ratings

August 6, 2011 § Leave a comment

Standard and Poors just downgraded the U.S. credit rating a few hours before I posted this, so I haven’t seen any news graphics posted about this subject. But you can go to this link to see where the U.S. ratings stand compared with other countries. The down grade puts us below Canada, on par with Belgium and above Japan.

The ratings bring the U.S. credit-worthiness from “extremely strong” to “very strong” based on its political and economic profile, which I find kind of funny despite the seriousness of the situation.


Debt limit

July 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

debt limit wall street journal
On the same day, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post published graphics highlighting tough choices the federal government would need to make if the debt ceiling isn’t raised by Aug. 2: The U.S. would need to decide which bills to pay and which to skip. The Wall Street Journal’s graphic is above and the Washington Post’s is below.
washington post debt limit
The Washington Post also published an interactive graphic in which the user can chose which federal bills to pay with the limited funds that would be available.


Both publications turned to a recent analysis by the Bipartisan Policy Center, which estimated daily receipts and payments based on publicly available data from daily Treasury statements. The report provides specificity that brings home what this crisis could mean for our country.


bipartisan policy center debt limit analysis

Who holds Greek debt?

July 4, 2011 § 1 Comment

With Greece heading toward default on its debt, many news organizations are looking at who would pick up the tab. This New York Times chart breaks down how much Greek debt each country holds. The data comes from the Bank for International Settlements, which coordinates international financial services regulations and serves as a bank for central banks.

The BIS maintains a vast menu of statistics, so here is the exact location where you would find these figures:

Go to the BIS site’s Consolidated Banking Statistics page (http://www.bis.org/statistics/consstats.htm.)
Scroll down to the bottom, where you will see a link to Table 9E Foreign exposures on selected individual countries, ultimate risk basis. Note that not all countries will be listed in the data.

Mining statistics

June 17, 2011 § Leave a comment

Nothing out of the ordinary here. Just wanted to share a source for production and reserves of various commodities:


This is the source of the Wall Street Journal graphic above.

Recession dates

July 12, 2009 § Leave a comment

recessionsAbove is a quick example of how you might show periods of recession in a chart.

If you need to know when the United States has been in recession, consult this table on the National Bureau of Economic Research Web site:  http://www.nber.org/cycles/cyclesmain.html

The peak of the business cycle is considered the beginning of the recession, and the trough of the cycle marks the end.

So the most recent recessions began and ended on the following months:

January 1980/July 1980

July 1981/November 1982

July 1990/March 1991

March 2001/November 2001

December 2007/whenever this recession ends

A novel way to plot unemployment

July 3, 2009 § Leave a comment


By using a sort of “heat map” to plot unemployment over time, this Wall Street Journal graphic lets you take in a huge amount of data at one glance. You can mouse over every month to get the exact data point and toggle on and off a symbol that indicates the month fell within a recession period.


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