Oct 222012
 

Back in 1880, if you weren’t a farmer or a laborer…

Actually, if you lived in the United States back in 1880, you were probably a farmer or laborer.  Or a domestic servant.

That is, if you had a job in the first place.

For more shop talk from the 1880 Statistical Atlas of the United States, check out the more rarefied occupations in trade and transportation and manufacturing and mining or learn more about your future past in agriculture and professional and personal services.

[Image from Brooklyn Brainery's A Handsome Atlas]

All Other Assets

 Posted by on September 26, 2012
Sep 262012
 

From Gresham’s Law:

Here we present a history of the Fed in charts. As you’ll surely glean from the below — the Fed has degenerated from a by and large passive institution (dealing only in high-quality self-liquidating commercial paper and gold) to an active pursuant of junk, an enabler of wars, a ‘benevolent’ combatant of the depressions of its own creation, a central planner of employment & prices and of course a forgiving friend to inconvenient market follies.

If you understood any of that, you might enjoy the accompanying decade-by-decade survey of the Fed’s assets.  Everyone else can join us in hoping that someone understood it.

You Can Jump Into The Fire

 Posted by on August 9, 2012
Aug 092012
 

What is the creeping menace shown in the haunted chart below?  It’s the amount of high frequency trading in the stock market from the beginning of time January 2007 through January 2012…

Each color stands for a different U.S. stock exchange and the x-axis lays out the hours of each trading day, from 9:30am to 4pm EST.  What is it supposed to look like?   There is no correct answer, but the key is to notice that this phenomenon barely shows up in 2007 and initially only involved spikes at the open and the close of each day.  …  And then it just kind of goes nuts.  …  Much as it did last week when Knight Capital Group’s high frequency trading monster program went rogue and couldn’t be shut down for half an hour.

What kind of effect can one company’s trading program have?

A New York Times analysis of New York Stock Exchange volume on Wednesday morning showed that during the first minute of trading there was 12 percent more trading in all stocks than there had been on average during the previous seven days. By the third minute of trading there was 116 percent more trading than the previous week’s average. The difference reached a peak at 9:58 a.m., when the volume was six times greater. After that, trading volume fell off sharply, nearing the recent average at 10:15 a.m.

Now, where is it that we’re supposed to put all of our money for retirement, you know, to keep it safe?

[Chart from Nanex via Felix Salmon]

Aug 072012
 

As a counterpoint to Olympic medal counts, see how the nations of the world stack up in terms of innovation and, crowd-favorite, GDP per capita:

From the GII release:

For the second year running, Switzerland, Sweden, and Singapore lead in overall innovation performance according to the Global Innovation Index 2012 (GII): Stronger Innovation Linkages for Global Growth, published by INSEAD, the leading international business school, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), a specialized agency of the United Nations.

You can see why they put the one on tv and not the other.

Go team.

[Chart from The Global Innovation Index via The Economist]

Jul 122012
 

In the movie Star Trek: First Contact, a character asks Captain Picard how much it cost to build the Enterprise, and he replies, “The economics of the future are somewhat different. You see, money doesn’t exist in the 24th century. The acquisition of wealth is no longer the driving force in our lives. We work to better ourselves, and the rest of humanity.” What do you think about that? – From Wired interview with Paul Krugman

What’s the goal of BuildTheEnterprise.org?

Exactly what you might hope…

From the BTE site:

We have the technological reach to build the first generation of the spaceship known as the USS Enterprise – so let’s do it.

Now that’s the spirit.  And based on early projections, it’s only going to cost about a trillion dollars, which at $50 billion a year is pretty much peanuts, particularly considering the scale of the project.

But this is not the first time someone has made such a chart.

Back in 1992, developers were pushing to build a smaller version of the USS Enterprise as a tourist attraction in downtown Las Vegas, but the plan fell through when the studio got cold feet.

This time, however, the studio isn’t involved and the idea is to build it in space, not Nevada, for the purpose of boldly and literally going where no person has gone before.

This first generation Enterprise can have 1g artificial gravity and ample living space. It can be as comfortable to live in as being on earth. A thousand people can be on board at once – either as crew members or as adventurous visitors. While the ship will not travel at warp speed, it can travel at a constant acceleration such that the ship can easily get to key points of interest in our solar system.

What’s the plan?

9 years for research, 11 years for development and then Mars is ours in 90 days. What do you think about that indeed.

While Krugman was not optimistic about the immediately-distant future, why wait three centuries to do something we could technically achieve in our lifetime?  We can create jobs and free up some parking spots all in one go.

What else do you need to know?  How can you help?  You’ll find it all at BuildTheEnterprise.org.

[Thanks, Pete!, Vegas images from the Goddard Group via BoingBoing]

Jun 252012
 

Yes, the days are now getting shorter, but how short?  When is the sun going to set on this Monday and how might one gain this information without being dependent on a meteorologist?

Glad you asked.

All you need to do is find your latitude, figure out the day of the year and then use this groovy chart

Got more Monday to kill?  Take the scenic route and use the sunrise equation to work it out yourself.  There’s…

or

or


If you’re not into math, then call it art.

If you’ve still got time before sunset, then enjoy a look at what “constant day” looks like in space.

Jun 202012
 

“You got money in my politics!”

“You got politics in my money!”

What’s more unsettling, the amount being spent or the fact that it’s happening right out in the open?

Would it be more respectful to hide this from the public?

[Chart via the latest in Mother Jones' coverage of Dark Money in politics]