Felix Salmon

Chart of the day, Swiss franc edition

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This chart comes from Eric Burroughs, who calls it “one of the best gauges for showing the extreme nervousness over what the endgame really is in Europe”. But I’m assuming here that you’re not the kind of person who looks at FX volatility surfaces on an everyday basis, so it might be worth a little bit of explanation.

Felix Salmon smackdown watch, earnings-yield edition

The economic historian James Macdonald emails with a very different version of my earnings-yield chart. Instead of going back to 1985, he’s found annual data all the way back to 1920. And instead of using Treasury bonds — a sui generis asset class with its own dynamics surrounding flight to quality and the like — he’s uses the yield on BAA-rated bonds instead. The result is fascinating:

Chart of the day: The great earnings-yield divergence

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After I wrote my post on Monday about the huge divergence in yields between stocks and bonds, I wondered just how historically unprecedented this divergence was. And now, with the help of this fabulous chart (many thanks to Nick Rizzo, Dan Burns, and Stephen Culp), it’s pretty easy to see: we’re at levels which match those at the height of the financial crisis, and which are otherwise historically utterly unprecedented.

Chart of the day, global equity market edition

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I love this global equity snapshot from Bloomberg’s Michael McDonough. For one thing, it clearly shows how European bourses are in much worse shape than those in the U.S. First look at the green dots in the little 52-week sparklines: the American and European highs weren’t all that far away from each other, chronologically speaking. And then look at the red dots: every exchange in Europe is hitting new 52-week lows, usually quite dramatically. By contrast, the U.S. indices all have their red dots over to the left: we still haven’t even dropped back to where we were a year ago.

Chart of the day: America’s small tax revenues

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This chart comes from Barrie McKenna’s great article on US tax rates, and pretty much speaks for itself. While the rest of the developed world has seen its tax rate rise as it got richer, the US stands out as the one country where tax rates have been going down. In the OECD, only Chile and Mexico have lower tax burdens, and neither of them have been decreasing: both have relied very much on state-owned commodity wealth to stand in for tax revenue.

Adventures with yield curves, debt-ceiling edition

Bill Dowd emails to ask about short-term Treasury yields, which finally seem to have noticed the debt ceiling debate in recent days:

The microeconomics of restaurant letter grades

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Many congratulations to the WSJ for putting this chart together; it says much more than the thousand-word accompanying article does. New York City restaurants are periodically graded by inspectors, and then given a grade based on how many violation points they have. And the chart demonstrates, more than any set of anecdotes ever could, that inspectors are trying very hard to give the restaurants the highest letter grade they can.

The curious Greek bond price chart

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Many thanks to Van Tsui and Scott Barber for putting this chart together for me. We’re all used to seeing yield curves — charts which show the yield, for any given credit, at various points along the maturity spectrum. This chart is different: it’s a price curve. It just shows the price at which Greek bonds are trading, plotted according to their maturity.

Chart of the day: Techs vs industrials

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Thanks to Larry Summers for suggesting that I take a look at this chart. It wasn’t particularly easy to find, but it’s quite striking all the same. (And thanks very much to Roy Strom and Van Tsui, here at Thomson Reuters for putting it together.)