Graphic detail

Charts, maps and infographics

  • Daily chart

    America is losing the battle against robocalls

    by THE DATA TEAM

    ROBOCALLS, the pre-recorded phone messages peddling debt-reduction and timeshares, have irritated consumers in America for over a decade. According to YouMail, a call-blocking service, 3.4bn robocalls were blasted out in April, equivalent to nearly 1,300 every second. The Federal Trade Commission receives 500,000 complaints about such calls every month (see chart). Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), America’s telecoms regulator, says Americans are “mad as hell”. Robocalls are consistently the agency’s top consumer complaint. Can anything be done?

  • Daily chart

    Weather and violence displace millions inside borders every year

    by THE DATA TEAM

    IN 2015 the refugee crisis in the eastern Mediterranean made headlines when a picture of a dead three-year-old Syrian boy, face down on a beach on the southern tip of Europe, brought home the tragic consequences of conflicts raging in Africa and the Middle East. Alan Kurdi’s desperate escape ended within five minutes of leaving Bodrum in Turkey, when the overloaded inflatable boat that carried him capsized. The journeys of those fleeing their homes to make new lives elsewhere capture headlines and animate politics. But millions more are forced out of their homes only to remain inside the borders of their countries.

  • Daily chart

    As GDPR nears, Google searches for privacy are at a 12-year high

    by THE DATA TEAM

    MAY 25th marks the deadline for companies to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The law, passed two years ago by the European Union (EU), requires firms to take better care of their customers’ data. Meeting its requirements is a tall order. To pass muster businesses have to appoint a “data-protection officer”, conduct impact assessments, ensure that customers provide explicit consent to use their information and give them the ability to inspect, correct or delete their records. The regulations apply even to companies outside of the EU that deal with European consumers. 

  • Daily chart

    Why expensive weddings are a bad idea

    by THE DATA TEAM

    GETTING hitched is not cheap. Various estimates put the cost of a typical British wedding at anywhere between £18,000 and £25,000 ($24,200 and $33,700), roughly eight to eleven months of disposable income for the median household. That would pay for less than half the luxury toilets at today’s royal wedding between Prince Harry, the sixth in line to the throne, and Meghan Markle, an American actress, according to guesses made by Bridebook.co.uk, a wedding-planning website. 

    The festivities at Windsor Castle, which the royal family will fund, may cost as much as £2m. Taxpayers will foot the bill for the biggest expense: security.

  • Daily chart

    How heavy use of social media is linked to mental illness

    by THE DATA TEAM

    MAY 20th will mark the end of “mental-health awareness week”, a campaign run by the Mental Health Foundation, a British charity. Roughly a quarter of British adults have been diagnosed at some point with a psychiatric disorder, costing the economy an estimated 4.5% of GDP per year. Such illnesses have many causes, but a growing body of research demonstrates that in young people they are linked with heavy consumption of social media. 

    According to a survey in 2017 by the Royal Society for Public Health, Britons aged 14-24 believe that Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter have detrimental effects on their wellbeing.

  • Daily chart

    Britain cuts the maximum stake for fixed-odds betting terminals

    by THE DATA TEAM

    PRESS a button and £100 disappears; 20 seconds later, repeat the process. An exceptionally unlucky gambler betting the maximum £100 ($135) stake on a fixed-odds betting terminal (FOBT) could conceivably lose £18,000 in an hour—although at an average payout of 97% of the user’s stake every spin, the more likely result in that time period would be a loss of around £100. 

    FOBTs have been controversial since they appeared in betting shops in Britain in 1999. Opponents of the machines warned that they would offer a quick fix for problem gamblers, of which there are an estimated 350,000 in the country.

  • Daily chart

    A record of ancient Rome’s economy turns up in a glacier in Greenland

    by THE DATA TEAM

    SILVER mining in antiquity was a dreadfully unpleasant business. Galena, a silver-bearing lead ore mined in Europe, mostly in Iberia, was crushed and heated for hours to yield its silver. The process was nasty but necessary: silver was the main coin of the Mediterranean region, and especially the Roman world. Romans (or, rather, their slaves) worked the mines on an unprecedented scale.

    While this silver was crossing palms across Europe, lead fumes from the smelting rose into atmospheric currents that carried them over Greenland, where they settled onto glaciers and were trapped in the ice. This is where climate researchers found them.

  • Daily chart

    The price of oil inches towards $80 a barrel

    by THE DATA TEAM

    JUST three years ago, oil prices were in free fall. Spurred by the rapid growth of fracking in the United States and Saudi Arabia’s decision to keep producing large volumes of crude, the price of a barrel of oil lost more than two-thirds of its value in 2014-15. After hitting bottom at about $30, the trend reversed. At $78, a barrel of Brent crude now fetches nearly three times as much as it did at its nadir in 2016.

    Both demand and supply have driven the steady recovery in prices. The generally robust global economy has increased appetites for energy. In 2017 global oil consumption rose by 1.6%, with the bulk of the additional fuel burned in Western economies and in China.

  • Daily chart

    Artificial intelligence may change the way companies issue debt

    by THE DATA TEAM

    COMPANIES that want to borrow money through capital markets have conventionally had only one option: hiring an investment bank. In exchange for a hefty fee, these intermediaries shepherd their clients through the long process of selling debt, producing reams of documentation and rounding up willing buyers. Perhaps the most important service they provide is estimating the price that the market will bear for a given firm’s bonds.

  • Daily chart

    Partisanship at Eurovision is becoming more blatant

    by THE DATA TEAM

    THE Eurovision song contest, the 63rd final of which takes place in Lisbon on May 12th, is as notorious for its politics as for its cheesy power ballads. Last year Russia withdrew when Ukraine, the host country, denied entry to its candidate, who had performed in Crimea after Russia had invaded and annexed the region in 2014. Ukraine had previously won the competition with a cheery song about Joseph Stalin’s deportation of Crimean Tatars during the 1940s. In 2015 Armenia’s lyrics marked 100 years since the massacre of 1.5m people, which its neighbours Turkey and Azerbaijan refuse to recognise as genocide.

  • Daily chart

    The hierarchy of countries winning Nobels in the sciences is shifting

    by THE DATA TEAM

    SINCE the first Nobel prizes were bestowed in 1901, American scientists have won a whopping 269 medals in the fields of chemistry, physics and physiology or medicine. This dwarfs the tallies of America’s nearest competitors, Britain (89), Germany (69) and France (31). However Claudius Gros of Goethe University Frankfurt, in Germany, believes a closer analysis shows that America’s lead is not quite what its seems.

    In this analysis, just published in Royal Society Open Science, Dr Gros breaks the totals into Nobels earned per head of population in the year an award was made (see chart), to try to eliminate the effects of sheer size, and instead to examine productivity.

  • Daily chart

    Climate change will affect developing countries more than rich ones

    by THE DATA TEAM

    GLOBAL warming is often used as a synonym for climate change, and most discussions of the topic focus on the expected increase in average global temperatures. However, the frequency and severity of individual, catastrophic weather events depend heavily on the variability of temperatures as well as their mean. The larger the swings, the more often extremely hot or cold conditions can wreak havoc.

    Unfortunately, according to a new study by Sebastian Bathiany of Wageningen University and three other scientists, poor countries are not only predicted to bear the brunt of the increase in average temperatures, but also to suffer from higher variation.

  • Daily chart

    A trade war will inevitably hurt America’s companies

    by THE DATA TEAM

    OPEN markets have lowered prices and raised living standards for millions of people but a new tit-for-tat trade war now threatens that progress. After America said on March 8th it would impose 25% tariffs on imported steel, China retaliated with tariffs on dozens of American goods, from pork to wine. America’s president, Donald Trump, and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, were due to talk on May 8th in an effort to settle some of their differences. Mr Trump, for his part, insists that much of America’s trade with China is “stupid” and is confident that America can win a trade war. Mr Xi, meanwhile, insists that there will be “no winners”. 

  • Daily chart

    Access to banking services is spreading throughout the developing world

    by THE DATA TEAM

    IN 2017 the number of people without access to banking services fell to 1.7bn, down from 2.5bn in 2011, thanks largely to the rise of mobile-payment apps. Physical banks and ATMs can be expensive to setup, especially in rural areas, but the rise of mobile banking has meant that for the first time, hundreds of millions of people living in the developing world now have access to finance. According to the Findex, an index compiled by the World Bank, only 69% of adults around the world have bank or mobile-money accounts. But 78% of wage-earners without bank accounts have mobile phones. So mobile-payment services should have plenty of room for further growth.

  • Daily chart

    America’s Treasury ramps up borrowing to finance the Republican tax cuts

    IT IS a central principle of Keynesian economics that governments should stimulate demand during recessions by cutting taxes and boosting spending. Conversely, when times are good and unemployment is low, budgets should be kept in check. However, these conventional counter-cyclical prescriptions seem to hold little sway with White House policymakers. In his first year in office, Donald Trump has turned Keynes on his head, pushing through a massive fiscal stimulus during America’s second-longest economic expansion in history.

    The shift in America’s fiscal outlook has been swift.

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