Sunday, May 2, 2010

The visual display of (politically-loaded) information

I have always been a fan of Edward Tufte and his work on the visual display of information (I am borrowing one of the titles of his books for the title of this blog entry). Below is a chart that I found via Brad DeLong on the path of job creation (or destruction) around the time of the change in the US administration. The original source of the data is the blog/web site of Nancy Pelosi (speaker of the US House of Representatives). Nice contrast between the Bush and Obama administration.

There are, of course, different ways of looking at the labor market performance during the Obama administration as Greg Mankiw has pointed out in his blog. Below is a picture that he updates often on the difference between what the administration had forecasted as a result of the recovery plan and the actual unemployment rates.

Same labor market, same data, but two very different messages depending on how we look at it.

Antonio Fatás