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Monday March 7th 2011
Charts, maps and infographics
Daily chart
Global house prices
Clicks and mortar
Mar 3rd 2011, 12:45 by The Economist online
Our interactive overview of global house prices and rents reveals the world’s most overvalued homes


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Europe's economies
Spreading infection
Mar 3rd 2011, 12:00 by The Economist online
THE fear that Greece's sovereign-debt crisis might presage similar episodes elsewhere in the euro zone has been borne out. In November, Ireland joined Greece in intensive care, becoming the first euro-zone country to apply for funds from the rescue scheme agreed in May 2010 in concert with the IMF. Sovereign-bond spreads (the extra interest compared with bonds issued by Germany, the safest credit) have risen sharply in other euro-zone countries, notably Portugal, but also in Spain. Promises to tackle budget deficits through public spending cuts and tax increases have offered little reassurance to bondholders, who know that austerity will hold back already-weak GDP growth.
The interactive graphic above (updated March 3rd 2011) illustrates some of the problems that the European economy faces. GDP picked up in most countries through 2010 but there were marked differences in performance. Germany was especially sprightly: its economy rose by almost 4% in the year to the third quarter. But GDP in Greece has crashed under the weight of austerity; Ireland has yet to emerge convincingly from a deep recession; and Spain’s economy is barely growing. It is notable that GDP countries outside the euro, such as Britain, Poland and especially Sweden grew at a faster rate than the euro-zone average in the year to the third quarter.
In many countries unemployment has not gone up by as much as one might expect given the depth of the crisis. Germany now has lower unemployment than before the crisis, thanks in part to a short-time working scheme and flexible time arrangements in its manufacturing sector. The worst-affected countries include Ireland and Spain, where a collapse in construction has swollen the dole queues. Britain has fared better because its tight planning laws limited the growth of its construction sector during the global housing boom.
Weak growth and high unemployment spell particular trouble for countries that already have high levels of public debt. That explains why Greece was first to lose the confidence of the markets with a public-debt-to-GDP ratio of 127% and a budget deficit of 15.5%. In 2009, it was the euro zone's outlier country. Both Ireland and Spain had low public debt coming into the crisis, but a combination of recession and big housing busts blew a hole in their tax revenues. Ireland was, in the end, undone by fears that the state could not backstop its banks. Spain is now scrambling to avoid a similar fate. Others are pruning before the markets exert real pressure: Britain's debt has the longest maturity of any EU member but it is still aiming to get its finances in order within four brutal years.
AUDIO:  Our correspondents on why struggling euro-zone economies should restructure their debt sooner rather than later.
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Tablet computers
Taking the tablets
Mar 2nd 2011, 11:20 by The Economist online
The iPad's dominance of the market for tablet computers may prove short-lived
APPLE is due to launch a new version of its popular iPad on March 2nd. The company sold some 15m iPads in 2010, the year in which the device was launched, and according to one forecast it could sell more than 40m of them in 2011. But other tablet computers, in particular those based on Google's Android operating system, are expected to erode its share of a fast-growing market. In 2010 iPads accounted for about 80% of total tablet sales; by 2015 Apple's market share could fall below 40%.
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Exercise and temperature in US states
Too hot to trot
Mar 1st 2011, 14:41 by The Economist online
People who live in colder states take more exercise than those who live in warm ones
A RECENT report by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention declares that only 64% of Americans surveyed can be described as physically active (defined as over 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise or half as much vigorous activity). Almost a quarter get no exercise at all outside the workplace. The report offers a breakdown of exercisers by state. In general, it seems that people who live in cold states like Alaska are more likely to get their weekly work-out than those in sunny Florida. The biggest outliers from this correlation are Hawaii, where 70% are energetic, and Tennessee, which has the lowest percentage of active people despite a lower average temperature than several other states.
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Child brides
For poorer, most of the time
Feb 28th 2011, 14:09 by The Economist online
In some parts of the world marrying young is a social norm
IN SOUTH Asia and sub-Saharan Africa 38% of women marry before they are 18 years old. Child marriages, as defined by UNICEF, the United Nations’ children’s agency, are those undertaken by women under the age of 18 and include unions where a woman and a man live together as if they were married. According to a UNICEF report, most child marriages take place between the ages of 15 and 18, but in three countries, Niger, Chad and Bangladesh, more than a third of women aged 20-24 were already married by the age of 15. Such practices often flout the law: whilst the legal age of marriage in India is 18 around half of the Indian women surveyed were already married by that age. One negative effect of early marriage is the exclusion of women from education in favour of domestic work and child rearing. So countries with a high prevalence of child marriages also tend to have low literacy rates for young women.
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Libyan oil
Relying on Libya
Feb 25th 2011, 14:47 by The Economist online
Which countries depend most on Libyan oil?
LIBYA produces 1.7m of the world's 88m barrels a day (b/d) of oil. OECD countries import 1.2m b/d, and China another 150,000. Our chart shows which of Libya's main export markets are most dependent on it for their oil. At the top of the list, Ireland only accounts for a tiny fraction of Libya's oil exports. Italy is by far the biggest importer: in 2010 it took 376,000 b/d from its former colony. As oil prices surge amid the continuing unrest in the Arab world, importers will look to Saudi Arabia to make up any shortfall.
 
 
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Comparing Chinese provinces with countries
Chinese equivalents
Feb 24th 2011, 14:27 by The Economist online
Chinese equivalents
Which countries match the GDP, population and exports of China's provinces?
China is now the world’s second-biggest economy, but some of its provinces by themselves would rank fairly high in the global league. Our map shows the nearest equivalent country. For example, Guangdong's GDP (at market exchange rates) is almost as big as Indonesia's; the output of both Jiangsu and Shandong exceeds Switzerland’s. Some provinces may exaggerate their output: the sum of their reported GDPs is 10% higher than the national total. But over time the latter has consistently been revised up, suggesting that any overstatement is modest.
What about other economic yardsticks? Guangdong exports as much as South Korea, Jiangsu as much as Taiwan. Shanghai’s GDP per person is as high as Saudi Arabia’s (at purchasing-power parity), though still well below that in China’s special administrative regions, Hong Kong and Macau. At the other extreme, the poorest province, Guizhou, has an income per head close to that of India. Note that these figures use the same PPP conversion rate for the whole of China, but prices are likely to be lower in poorer provinces than in richer ones, slightly reducing regional inequality. 
- Click on the image above to access the interactive map -
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The adoption of genetically modified crops
Growth areas
Feb 23rd 2011, 14:57 by The Economist online
Where genetically modified crops are grown
THE world's farmers planted 148m hectares of genetically modified crops in 29 countries last year, according to the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-biotech Applications, an industry body. America is by far the biggest GM farmer, with 66.8m hectares under cultivation, 2.8m more than in 2009. As can be seen in our map, GM technology has been enthusiastically embraced in the Americas and in many Asian countries. By contrast, many European countries are subject to severe restrictions on growing GM crops. Developing countries are planting GM crops at a more rapid rate than rich countries. Brazil has added some 10m hectares since 2008 and overtook Argentina as the second-biggest grower in 2010. India, too, increased its area by over 10% last year. The most popular crop is soya, while the most common modification is tolerance to herbicides.
 
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America's finances
I O USA
Feb 18th 2011, 15:47 by The Economist online
America's government has little to say about tackling the budget deficit
EVER since the Democrats' poor showing in the mid-terms, the two parties have been engaged in a rather stiff dance. Both sides talk about cutting the deficit but are unwilling to risk losing voters by trimming the big budget items: pensions, Medicare, Medicaid and defence. Republicans, who were initially pushed to talk tough on cutting spending by the Tea Partiers, have backed away from what plans they had to take on entitlements since gaining control of the House. Meanwhile the White House appears to reason that making the running on cutting entitlements is a political loser, hence the lack of a medium or long-term vision for America's finances in the president's Budget Request, which was delivered to Congress this week with a complementary set of over-optimistic forecasts. For more on the federal budget see article.
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European employment
Saws to ploughshares
Feb 17th 2011, 16:33 by The Economist online
ACROSS the European Union, countries are finding it difficult to provide jobs for their citizens. Youth unemployment is a particular concern. But even for those lucky enough to be in work, the pattern of employment varies widely across the continent. Using data from Eurostat, the official EU statistics body, our interactive chart, below, breaks down the employment make-up of each of the 27 EU member states, along with Norway. The ex-communist countries that joined the EU after 2004 lead the industry pack, while work forces in the richer, northern states tilt towards services. Romania and Bulgaria, the two poorest and newest EU members, top the agriculture list.
 
 
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Arab League map
Mapping the Arab world
Feb 17th 2011, 14:52 by The Economist online
A statistical hub containing key data from all the countries of the Arab League
SINCE Tunisians rose up and ejected their leader, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, who had ruled the country for 23 years, the scent of jasmine has spread through the Arab world. Egyptian protesters ousted their president, Hosni Mubarak, in just 18 days, after three decades under his rule. Algeria, Libya, Yemen, Jordan, Bahrain and Oman have all seen brave demonstrations by people fed up with being denied a voice and a vote. Despite having a democracy of sorts, Iraq has joined in too. The map below presents key indicators for each member of the Arab League.
 
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Fuel prices
Crude arguments
Feb 16th 2011, 17:50 by The Economist online
Are taxes or crude oil prices to blame for expensive petrol?
PETROL prices have risen steeply in rich countries, triggering heated arguments about whom or what is to blame. America’s energy department recently blamed a jump in petrol prices of 3.1 cents per gallon in the space of seven days on the political unrest in Egypt affecting crude oil prices. Japan’s government blamed the high price of crude oil for its tenth weekly price increase at the pump. The British government has given the same explanation for price increases averaging 15% in the year to January. But with the oil price still at only two-thirds of its peak in mid-2008, this is not the only cause—as the three charts below show.
 
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Silvio Berlusconi and the law
Back in the dock
Feb 16th 2011, 17:42 by T.N. and J.H. | LONDON AND ROME
ANOTHER week, another legal headache for Silvio Berlusconi. Following a request from prosecutors in Milan, a judge has indicted the Italian prime minister on charges of paying for sex with an underage prostitute (the by-now infamous "Ruby Heartstealer") and abusing his office by securing her release from police custody. The trial is due to begin on April 6th. Mr Berlusconi denies all wrongdoing.
"Rubygate" is not Mr Berlusconi's only legal concern. Two trials relating to alleged financial improprieties are due to resume next month. If, like us, you sometimes struggle to keep up with the complexities of the Italian prime minister's legal struggles, our interactive guide, below, should help.
UPDATED: 16th February 2011
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Age and leadership
Gerontocracy
Feb 15th 2011, 14:23 by The Economist online
Does the difference between the age of a country's people and its leader matter?
ONE much-discussed cause of the Jasmine Revolution in the Arab world is the age difference between youthful populations and grizzled leaders. Egypt's median age is 24. President Hosni Mubarak was the fifth-oldest leader in the world before he was toppled aged 82. The countries in the chart below suggest that such a wide gap is more common in autocracies like Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Algeria, Cuba and North Korea (where Kim Jong Il celebrates his 70th birthday on February 16th). Democracies, by contrast, seem to prefer more youthful leaders these days, though India and Italy are exceptions to this trend.
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Global alcohol consumption
Drinking habits
Feb 14th 2011, 13:01 by The Economist online
A map of world alcohol consumption
THE world drank the equivalent of 6.1 litres of pure alcohol per person in 2005, according to a report from the World Health Organisation published on February 11th. The biggest boozers are mostly found in Europe and in the former Soviet states. Moldovans are the most bibulous, getting through 18.2 litres each, nearly 2 litres more than the Czechs in second place. Over 10 litres of a Moldovan's annual intake is reckoned to be 'unrecorded' home-brewed liquor, making it particularly harmful to health. Such moonshine accounts for almost 30% of the world's drinking. The WHO estimates that alcohol results in 2.5m deaths a year, more than AIDS or tuberculosis. In Russia and its former satellite states one in five male deaths is caused by drink.

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ETA timeline
From first blood to ceasefire
Feb 12th 2011, 16:30 by The Economist online
IN JANUARY Euskadi Ta Askatasuna ("Basque Homeland and Freedom"), the Basque separatist terror group better known as ETA, announced that a ceasefire it had declared in September was "permanent". The Spanish government responded sceptically; ETA's last "permanent" ceasefire lasted less than a year.
The group's latest declaration was made from a position of weakness. Sophisticated police operations have resulted in a string of arrests in recent years, sapping the group’s manpower and morale; the Spanish government’s decision to ban parties associated with ETA has left violent Basque separatism marginalised politically; and the group has struggled to find younger members to replenish its ranks.
ETA's ceasefire declaration was, in part, the result of pressure from Basque nationalists who have lost faith in the efficacy of the violent struggle. A new Basque-separatist party, Sortu, has explicitly distanced itself from ETA and is hoping that judges will allow it to register.

ETA has been responsible for 58 deaths since 2000; in the late 1970s it regularly killed more than that in a single year. In the course of its 52-year campaign to create an independent Basque homeland, charted in the timeline below, it has taken over 820 lives.
 
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The world's forests
Sylvan states
Feb 11th 2011, 11:01 by The Economist online
The state of the world's forests
THE Food & Agriculture Organisation, a UN body, estimates that the world's forests covered 4.03 billion hectares in 2010. Although the world as a whole continues to lose forests, the annual rate of deforestation in the past decade has fallen to 5.2m hectares, compared with 8.3m hectares a year between 1990 and 2000. Some large countries, including China and India, increased their forest cover between 2000 and 2010. China’s increased at an average annual rate of 1.6%, while India’s went up by 0.5% a year. Norway and Sweden have also added forests over the past decade. With forests covering nearly 70% of its area in 2010, Sweden is one of the world’s most sylvan countries. Nigeria, by contrast, has been chopping its forests down at a rate of 3.7% a year. By last year only one-tenth of its land remained forested.
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The mobile-phone market
iProfit
Feb 10th 2011, 12:35 by The Economist online
Apple is cashing in at Nokia's expense
UNTIL 2007 Europe appeared to have beaten Silicon Valley in mobile technology for good. Nokia, based in Finland, was the world's largest handset-maker—and raked in much of the profits. But everything changed when Apple introduced the iPhone in 2007, the first smartphone that deserved the name. Today Nokia still ships a third of all handsets, but Apple pulls in more than half of the profits—despite having a market share of barely 4%. Analysts doubt that this gap is sustainable: competitors will continue to go after Apple and squeeze its margin. What is more, fast-growing Chinese handset-makers, notably Huawei and ZTE, will make it into these charts soon. As for Nokia, all bets are off. Some say it will regain some of its old strength. Others predict that its market share will plunge as much as its profits. For our coverage of the firm's woes, click here.
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Arab unrest index
The Shoe-Thrower's index
Feb 9th 2011, 14:50 by The Economist online
An index of unrest in the Arab world
IN THIS week's print edition we ran a table showing a number of indicators for members of the Arab League. By adding a few more and ascribing different weights to them we have come up with the Shoe-Thrower's index, which aims to predict where the scent of jasmine may spread next. Some factors are hard to put a number on and are therefore discounted. For instance, dissent is harder in countries with a very repressive secret police (like Libya). The data on unemployment were too spotty to be comparable and so this important factor is discounted too. We took out the Comoros and Djibouti, which do not have a great deal in common with the rest of the group, and removed the Palestinian territories, Sudan and Somalia for lack of data. The chart below is the result of ascribing a weighting of 35% for the share of the population that is under 25; 15% for the number of years the government has been in power; 15% for both corruption and lack of democracy as measured by existing indices; 10% for GDP per person; 5% for an index of censorship and 5% for the absolute number of people younger than 25. Jordan comes out surprisingly low on the chart, which suggests the weighting might need to be tweaked. Post suggestions in the comments below and we will refine it.
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Global obesity
An expanding world
Feb 7th 2011, 13:14 by The Economist online
How mens' waistlines have grown since 1980
RISING levels of obesity are bad news for people and health-care budgets, but they also correlate with good things such as rising economic wealth. The three maps below, which are drawn from a new global study led by Professor Majid Ezzati of Imperial College, London, and published in the Lancet, show that, Polynesia aside, obesity was a rich-world phenomenon in 1980. By 2008 the rich world had itself expanded, bringing obesity to groups within countries that were previously considered poor, such as Brazil and South Africa. During that period, the prevalence rate of obesity among men doubled to nearly 10%. One country has stubbornly resisted this trend. For all its dynamism since India opened up its economy in 1990, its men have on average become even thinner. The study suggests that Congo is the thinnest country in the world, and Nauru the fattest. Imperial College's own map is here.
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Economic opportunities for women
Imbalance of opportunity
Feb 4th 2011, 19:08 by T.S. | LONDON
THIS presentation, prepared for one of our Ideas Economy events, examines the variation in economic opportunities for women around the world, using data compiled by the Economist Intelligence Unit. Opportunity is defined as a combination of prevailing labour policies, access to finance, education and training, and legal and social status. One surprising finding: under communism women were encouraged (or expected) to work, and this attitude has persisted in many former communist countries, which continue to provide more opportunities for women.

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Alternative energy
Wind from the East
Feb 3rd 2011, 18:33 by The Economist online
China leads the windy world
CHINA overtook America as the world leader in wind power in 2010, according to a new annual report by the Global Wind Energy Council. The chart below shows the five countries that make the greatest use of wind energy. Over the past decade, China's installed wind capacity has grown exponentially, from just 0.3GW in 2000 to 42.3GW last year, and now accounts for 22% of the world’s total wind power capacity. In 2010 it installed more turbines than America. The picture for the industry as a whole is less good, though. 2010 was the first year in which less capacity was installed than in the previous year.
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Poll of forecasters
The Economist poll of forecasters
Feb 2nd 2011, 19:30 by The Economist online
What our polls forecasted for 2010 GDP growth and inflation
EVERY month The Economist surveys a group of forecasters and gives the average of their predictions for economic growth, consumer prices and current-account balances for 13 countries and the euro area (see this month's poll). These charts show our pollsters' monthly 2010 growth and inflation predictions, for America, Japan and the euro area, since March 2009. The gap between the most optimistic and pessimistic forecasts shrinks as actual data become available. In June 2009, for example, bears reckoned America's economy would decline slightly; bulls saw growth at 2.8%. By the end of 2010 the gap was only 0.2 percentage points. Official data (typically released a few months after the year end) generally match our consensus forecasts, though some outliers distort the average.
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Drugs in Mexico
A gruesome paradox
Feb 2nd 2011, 15:14 by The Economist online
An interactive map of Mexico's security crisis
AS THE tally of murders linked to organised crime has risen over the past four years in Mexico, analysts have warned that insecurity is spreading to areas that were previously unaffected. The Mexican government insists that, on the contrary, the violence remains highly concentrated. Who is right? The answer, oddly, is both. In 2007, the first full year of the crackdown against the “cartels”, as the mafias are known, 70% of homicides linked to organised crime took place in just 4% of the country’s municipalities. In 2010, again, 70% of killings took place in only 3% of municipalities. If anything, the violence has become slightly more concentrated over time. But total annual killings have risen dramatically. The total for 2010 was more than five times that of 2007 (though there was an encouraging dip towards the end of the year). So although 97% of the country still sees only 30% of all the violence, that 30% represents a much larger number in gross terms than it did four years ago. The map above illustrates the paradox that violence in Mexico has spread extensively, while remaining highly concentrated.
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BP and the oil price
Black gold, but at what price?
Feb 1st 2011, 14:42 by The Economist online
BP makes its first loss in 18 years
PROFITING handsomely from oil looks easy when prices are high. BP made an astonishing £56 billion ($103 billion) in the five years between 2005 and 2009. But when disaster strikes the cash can quickly leak away. BP reported its first loss since 1992 on February 1st. A one-off charge of £25 billion resulting from an oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico did the damage. With the oil price steadily rising because of popular unrest and uncertainty around north Africa and the Middle East, BP is expected to return to form before long. Indeed, the company reported a tidy fourth-quarter profit of £3.5 billion. It's hard, it seems, to drag an oil company down for long.
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