Opinion

Ben Walsh

from Counterparties:

Top of the charts

Dec 20, 2013 23:01 UTC

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The onslaught of year-end lists is upon us, and in the econoblogosphere that means, among other things, charts. Lots of charts.

The Atlantic’s Matthew O’Brien rounds up the most important economic stories of 2013 from 44 journalists, economists, and policy experts. Business Insider’s Matthew Boesler has 100-plus charts from investors and Wall Street analysts. The Counterparties team sorted through O’Brien and Boesler’s lists, as well as our own catalogue of charts, to semi-arbitrarily bring you the 8 best charts (of the best charts) of the year:

 

1. Wages detaching from productivity

This chart from the Economic Policy Institute (cropped from the original for space reasons) shows how wages haven’t kept up with productivity increases since the 1970s. Today, the president of the EPI tweeted that this would be the chart on his tombstone.

 

2. The long-term unemployment crisis

The BLS charts the rise in long-term unemployment, which has surged since the financial crisis. As a result, AEI’s Michael Strain writes that millions of workers are “suffering financially, emotionally, spiritually… Society is also suffering: A large pool of willing and able workers are idle; our already segmented society is even more segmented; our country is less dynamic, vibrant, and thriving”.

Apple > Goldman (in revenue and profit per employee)

Ben Walsh
Nov 1, 2013 18:28 UTC

Fortune’s Philip Elmer-Dewitt finds an interesting chart in a research note from ISI’s Brian Marshall. Apple is bringing in far, far more revenue per employee than other US tech companies.

Marshall’s takeaway: “The scale [Apple] is executing on is nothing less than astonishing”. And not only does Apple beat out its tech peers, it sits above the US banks in both revenue and profit per employee for the most recent four quarters.

Apple is generating more revenue and profit per employee than the biggest banks, companies that are at least partially set up to deliver eye-popping per employee financial performance. Marshall’s statement applies more broadly than perhaps he intends. Apple’s performance is indeed “nothing less than astonishing”, and not just in comparison to tech companies.

Growth after the financial crisis

Ben Walsh
Apr 25, 2013 23:35 UTC

It’s easy to blame the UK’s weak post-crisis economy, which just barely avoided a triple-dip recession, on its large financial sector.

This chart, however, shows that austerity measures play a bigger role than the size of the financial sector when it comes to depressing post-crisis growth. Post financial crisis GDP growth is on the x-axis, and financial sector assets as a percentage of GDP is on the y-axis:

The Swiss economy is more highly financialized than the UK’s, and has had strong post-crisis growth. Meanwhile, Spain, with a much smaller financial sector, implemented austerity measures along with the UK and has also seen its economy shrink considerably.

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