And the title for worst graph goes to…
In the wake of my cautionary note about terrible business graphics, I submit the following from the NYT:
By representing debt in absolute quantities, the graphic paints a very inaccurate picture about the magnitude of the problems in each country. I sent this letter to the NYT:
This graphic is a poor representation. Your image implies that the Spain and Italy have a much more serious problem than, say, Ireland, Greece or Portugal.
But you’ve misrepresented the problem. Per capita, Portugal, Greece, Italy and Spain have about the same amount of international debt, ranging from $22.5K per person (Spain) to $28K per person (Portugal).
Ireland, with its meager population of 4.4 million, has a staggering $197K per person of foreign debt.
You could also consider debt as a fraction of annual GDP. For all but Ireland, that value is less than 1. For Ireland, debt is 3.2 x annual GDP, a substantial difference.
Your graphic and your article completely fail to appreciate these differences. Perhaps hiring an economist to review articles about economics would be helpful.
Think, for a moment, if this had been a graphic showing absolute values of infant mortality, or cancer diagnoses, or auto accidents. Direct comparison of absolute values would be useless.