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.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/federal-debt-limit-you-choose-who-gets-paid/?hpid=z2

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.

http://www.bipartisanpolicy.org/library/staff-paper/debt-limit-analysis

bipartisan policy center debt limit analysis

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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.

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/

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/

Gas prices

December 23, 2010 § Leave a comment

When gas prices begin to rise, news organizations typically begin to track the costs over time and across the nation, as shown in this 2006 Washington Post map above. The AAA Fuel Gauge Report (http://fuelgaugereport.aaa.com) provides these state-level prices daily. It also offers them by metro area if you need to make a more localized comparison.

Charts from the AAA Fuel Gauge site:

 

For historical prices, you need to go to the Energy Information Administration’s Petroleum Navigator (http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_pri_gnd_dcus_nus_w.htm), which gives weekly gas prices for more than a decade.

Drone strikes in Pakistan

October 8, 2010 § Leave a comment

 

The New America Foundation’s Counterterrorism Strategy Initiative has emerged as the accountant of drone strikes in Pakistan, much like how Iraq Body Count and iCasualties have served as the keepers of the death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Above is a Wall Street Journal graphic using the New America Foundation’s count. New America bases its figures on news accounts. It provides the date and location of each strike, as well as number of reported deaths and the name of the militant targeted.

http://counterterrorism.newamerica.net/drones

Their count shows a spike in drone attacks in September as the CIA stepped up strikes to knock out a suspected terror plot against European targets.

Below, a portion of the drone strike Google map New America maintains.

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