You can find plenty of people who will argue both sides and it can be difficult to disentangle the arguments and the data from personal biases. But what is hard to argue is that most of these discussions can get muddy very quickly unless you are well versed in the intricacies of economic data. What would be really nice is a user friendly (preferably animated) visualization of relevant data that tells us what is happening and is likely to happen. If you are looking for that you are in luck my friend.
I have previously written about Amanda Cox and the excellent graphics team at the NY Times. Well, they have done it again. They have taken a very interesting chart that is watched by OECD economists for changes in the economy and made it significantly better.
First take a look at the animated OECD chart. It is very nice with four quadrants and several variables that can be varied (including country). Try the buttons at the bottom to vary animation speed and trail length. The chart is meant to convey the cycles of boom and bust the economy goes through and ought to tell us how things are going to turn out in the next six months. But you would be hard pressed to make that judgment by just looking at this chart.
Now take a look at what Amanda Cox has done. She has simplified the data (U.S. only) and added more charts to effectively tell the story. Chart 1 appears to be a mess because it shows all the data at once, but slowly click through the charts in sequence. The story really gets moving on Chart 4. The coolest chart (9) is also the best one. Make sure you hit the Play button on the bottom left to see how things have played out since the 70s.
So what do you think? Are we turning the corner?