Felix Salmon

Weekend infoporn

By Felix Salmon
July 3, 2009

Well that’s annoying. I just wrote a very long blog entry about Brad Setser’s wonderful multimedia extravaganza over at CFR.org — click here and then click on “Chapter III: Motion Charts”. And then when I tried to post it, it disappeared entirely. So here’s the short version: all four of the wonderful Gapminder-style charts (household balance sheets, financial failures, global imbalances, and economic power shifts) are great, but my favorite is the financial failures one, which shows banks’ capital, assets, and market capitalization over time.

Check out where that financial-failures chart ends: with five European banks all having assets of more than $2.5 trillion, and none of them looking particularly well capitalized. No US bank is that dangerous, partly because no US bank is that big — and US banks are dangerous enough. All five of those European banks are too big to rescue, and none of them is particularly well regulated. How do we fix this problem? I have no idea. But I do know that it’s a huge problem, and that no one is even beginning to address it.

Update: Thanks to Alea for reminding me that European IFRS accounting standards result in significantly larger numbers for total assets than US GAAP standards. But still, the fact is those European banks are big.

4 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

Another vote: the graphs by Brad Setser and Paul Swartz are amazing.

Posted by jonathan | Report as abusive

My instinct, before posting any kind of substantive text on any web form anywhere, is to Ctrl+A Ctrl+C to copy it all.

I’ve been burned too many times with incorrect captchas, unreliable internet connections, cookie configuration problems, broken websites etc. Never again.

If there are multiple extensive text areas in the form, then it’s Win+R notepad , and I’ll copy all the main text fields into notepad before posting.


Barry Kelly said it so I don’t have to. Works great.

Posted by Noumenon | Report as abusive

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