Top economists reveal their graphs of 2011

To reflect on a particularly volatile past 12 months economically-speaking, the BBC has published a collection of graphs nominated by some of the top economists around the world as being “the graph which had the greatest impact on them, which they thought best explains the current financial situation, or which tells us something significant about what lies ahead”. Accompanying each graph in the slide show is a description from the economists explaining their choices.

It’s really interesting to see the array of designs that have had such an impact on these influential people, who are making such important policy decisions on the back of these displays (amongst other things, of course).

I know their selections are going to be based on the stories each chart tells (rather than a judgment of its accordance with best visualisation practices) but it is still amazing to see so many examples of poor colour choices, ugly type and, above all else, dominating, intruding chart apparatus.

Here’s a small sample of the chosen graphs, you can see the full slideshow here:

 

VICKY PRYCE, SENIOR MANAGING DIRECTOR FTI CONSULTING

 

RICHARD KOO, CHIEF ECONOMIST AT THE NOMURA RESEARCH INSTITUTE

 

KENNETH ROGOFF, FORMER CHIEF ECONOMIST AT THE IMF

2 Comments

Andy CotgreaveDecember 13th, 2011 at 9:57 am

HI Andy
Thanks for linking to this. I think you’re a bit harsh on the charts – sure, they could be softened, but they are all fundamentally telling a very good story. They don’t have 3-d, for a start! Also, each one is decipherable with around 30 seconds of reading the chart. Given that these charts tell complicated stories I don’t think that’s too bad. I found the slideshow fascinating and depressing, and reassuring that while the data-ink ratio is not great, things aren’t as bad as I might have expected.

Andy KirkDecember 13th, 2011 at 10:24 am

Thanks for that Andy. I absolutely agree that they tell the story in each case – and the lack of 3D is absolutely a bonus! – but I just find them extremely ugly. That last one in particular – awful font, yellow on white, dual axis, poor annotation/labeling.