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.

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Historical election results

June 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

This scatterplot from Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight blog at the New York Times (http://fivethirtyeight.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/06/02/on-the-maddeningly-inexact-relationship-between-unemployment-and-re-election/) suggests there is no correlation between unemployment and a president’s re-election chances. I haven’t seen many news charts that set out to show a lack of correlation, but in this case it’s compelling. I also haven’t seen many scatterplots where the horizonal axis sits in the middle of the chart rather than the bottom, but it worked here and you can follow the chart easily.

While this is a great chart, what I really want to point out is the source of the election results. (This is Seth’s Sources after all!) Rather than the Federal Election Commission or Politics in America or whatnot, they come from David Leip’s Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections (http://uselectionatlas.org/) When I first stumbled onto this source many years ago, I thought it was too homegrown and unofficial to use as a primary source. My opinion changed quickly. That’s the crazy thing about the Internet: someone who begins a Web site as an enthusiast or hobbyist can end up building a more complete, accurate and useful set of data than anything offered by the government or major publishers. Time and again, media organizations turn to David Leip’s atlas for historical election stats.

The atlas provides stats back to 1789. In addition to standard vote counts, you can get the size of the voting age population, turnout as a percentage of voting age population or registered voters, number of invalid ballots and a number of other statistics.

Sovereign Wealth Funds

June 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

Many nations have created sovereign wealth funds to make huge investments in stocks, real estate, bonds and other financial instruments. This investment power frequently makes headlines. Above is a chart that appeared on the front page of The Wall Street Journal highlighting the sovereign wealth funds of middle eastern nations. Note the source: the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute. These guys offer current, accurate rankings of the sovereign wealth funds around the world for free on their website. More detailed information requires a subscription.

http://www.swfinstitute.org/fund-rankings/

Flood maps and charts

May 23, 2011 § Leave a comment

national weather service flood monitor

The National Weather Service posts readings from river flood gauges to its Web site every 15 minutes. You can download the files as KMZ or SHP files to build your own maps. Below, an example of a map from the Wall Street Journal using this data.

You can also download the readings from individual flood gauges to build charts showing when flood waters will crest at a particular location.

national weather service flood stageE

Example from the Wall Street Journal

SSND online design winners

April 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Student Society for News Design announced its awards for online design April 19. Syracuse and Missouri had strong showings. (Above is the splash page from Syracuse student David Miller’s piece, “Jerry’s Cabin.”

Among the winners:

Infographics http://apartfromwar.news21.com/stories/jerrys-cabin-veteran-home-infographic
http://www.collegian.psu.edu/asset.aspx?id=1160
http://americanresponse.project573.com/storyPage_stimulus.php?storyElement=7

Web sites:
http://americanresponse.project573.com
http://www.apartfromwar.org
http://www.thenewshouse.com

Economic history

March 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

angus maddison world gdp

When China officially became the world’s second-largest economy last month, the Wall Street Journal ran this chart, which shows the world economy way back to 1820. Before seeing this data, I hadn’t imagined you could show Gross Domestic Product figures so far into the past. That’s because I hadn’t discovered the work of late economist Angus Maddison, a world scholar of quantitative macroeconomic history and the go-to source for historical GDP figures. His statistics stretch to 1 AD and are presented in purchasing power parity, a GDP calculation that adjusts for differences in wages and prices among economies.

Following is a link to his data:

http://www.ggdc.net/MADDISON/Historical_Statistics/horizontal-file_02-2010.xls

And to the University of Groningen page dedicated to him:

http://www.ggdc.net/maddison/

Circles of influence

November 17, 2010 § Leave a comment

For years, the Washington Post has produced “inner circle” charts that portray the individuals surrounding powerful political figures, such as President Obama, Hillary Clinton, and now Republican Leader John Boehner.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/boehners_world/

The diagrams show levels of influence as concentric rings, and categories, such as staff or college classmates, as wedges of the circle. The graphics reporter assembling the diagram needs a deep knowledge of the politician in order to assign a level of influence to each associate. The connections and coalitions are equally hard to arrange and often require reliable sources near to the politician to help with the placement.

The final trick is to get photographs of the dozens of people in the diagram, many of whom may be obscure despite their connections to powerful people.

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