Monthly Archives: December 2012

Kate Allen

By Kate Allen and Keith Fray

What were the most popular charts of 2012?

The statistics desk at the Financial Times is the organisation’s data hub. It provides data for all areas of our coverage and deals with inquiries from FT journalists around the globe. Based in London and staffed by a team of 6 economists and journalists, the stats desk receives thousands of requests a year. Its team is thus perfectly placed to spot the big data trends.

And here they are: the FT stats desk’s top charts of 2012 … Read more

Chris Cook

Last week, I went to Wolverhampton where I spoke at a local debate, organised by the university and Pat McFadden, the local MP, about the local authority’s school. I was the warm-up act for Lord Adonis, former schools minister, setting the scene about the city’s education system before his talk on lessons on school improvement.

It was interesting event – and the city is clearly considering its future and the role of education within it. There is – judging by my inbox – serious and deep interest in improving schools in the city. One of the things I sought to do was set out Wolvo’s position in relation to the rest of the country – and what statistics about the city tell us.

Here is my presentation: Read more

Valentina Romei

At the start of this year, Mario Monti, the Italian prime minister, unveiled a programme of liberalisation, which together with austerity measures were meant to put the country back on track for growth.

The package triggered protests from taxi drivers, pharmacists, petrol station operators and lawyers – all professions that were included in the liberalisation plan. The measures also targeted the gas and electricity market, the insurance sector and local public services. The aims of these plans were to reduce the costs of goods and services to consumers and to foster competition among providers, with cheaper products and services making the austerity measures easier to digest.

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When the Office for National Statistics relaunched its website last year, a geek like me was distraught as it had failed to make navigation of the UK’s generally wonderful statistics easier. “The new ONS website – aaaargh,” I commented.

Today, I gave evidence on the communication of statistics to the Public Administration Select Committee and to test whether the website had improved materially I thought I would pick a relevant question, to which I wanted to find an answer as a member of the public and as an expert user of the website. The question was: Is unemployment higher or lower now than in 1995?

This is the website journey (for lay and expert users) I described in the Committee, which I think is accurate and depressing. I don’t think a non-expert could find the interesting answer (at the bottom of the post) and an expert has to take a long journey to get there.

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Valentina Romei

Chinese exports grew less than expected in November, fueling fears of a further economic slowdown. But exports from western inland Chinese regions have never grown so fast as in 2012, beating export growth rates of the rich industrial coastal regions.

Chinese export growth declined to 2.9 per cent in November from 11.6 per cent in October. On a rolling 12-month sum exports grew at an annual rate of 7.9 per cent in November, a figure well below the more than 30 per cent growth of the late 2010 and early 2011 and marks a 28-month record low. But not all regions in China experienced the same slowdown.

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Kate Allen

The NHS is wasting millions of pounds on unnecessarily expensive prescription drugs, according to new data research.

Doctors in some parts of England are over-prescribing branded drugs in many cases where far cheaper generic equivalents are available, the research by a coalition of organisations found. Just two popularly-used branded drugs cost the NHS £27 million a month in unnecessary spending, they discovered. This amounts to over £300 million a year.

The research was conducted by health technology firm Open Health Care UK, data start-up business Mastodon C, and Ben Goldacre, a doctor and science campaigner, operating collectively as Prescribing AnalyticsRead more

Kate Allen

The Treasury’s long-awaited review of the Private Finance Initiative has been released as part of today’s Autumn Statement. It contains some pretty damning findings – and some interesting proposals for the years ahead.

Firstly, it’s ditching the much-maligned name “PFI”. Instead, from now on we will have “PF2″. Get used to it. Here are some of the other interesting points in the report. Read more

Emily Cadman

Today’s autumn statement saw the Office for Budget Responsibility slash its economic forecasts for the UK – the FT’s Claire Jones explains the significance of it here.

So here is a quick chart looking at how sharply expectations for two of the key measures – public sector net debt as percentage of GDP and GDP percentage change – have changed between the budget earlier this year and now. Read more

Kate Allen

By Kate Allen and Jonathan Moules

A new institution which aims to maximise the UK’s world-leading position in the emerging field of data use for the creation of new businesses and services is set to launch today.

The Open Data Institute, which was announced by George Osborne in last year’s Autumn Statement, will be the first such organisation of its kind in the world. It will receive £10m government funding over the next five years and aims to raise an equal amount from private donors. It has already attracted $750,000 from eBay founder and philanthropist Pierre Omidyar. Read more

an investor looking at stock prices at a securities brokerage in ShanghaiChinese equities are in the doldrums. Both the Shenzhen composite and the Shanghai composite indices touched their lowest level in over three years this week, marking a loss for both indices of around 10 per cent since the start of the year.

But not all Chinese stocks are falling. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng China Enterprises Index, composed of mainland companies, is up by around 6 per cent. So stock selection matters. Chart of the week takes a look.

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