Monthly Archives: May 2013

Kate Allen

The reason behind the largest Chinese takeover of a US company to date? Dumplings.

Chinese meat processing firm Shuanghui is aiming to buy Smithfield Foods, the world’s largest pork producer. The deal is being driven by Chinese consumers’ soaring demand for wonton dumplings, char sui noodles and other delicious pork-based dishes.

Here is why the deal adds up for Shuanghui in nine charts:

1. China is now by far the world’s largest market for pork:

China pork 3 Read more

Kate Allen

Despite its global economic role and international population demographics, London has always batted below its weight in terms of size. The 9 million people inhabiting its official geographical area are dwarfed by the urban areas of the world’s biggest cities, such as Tokyo and Shanghai.

But that might be about to change.

London has evolved into a global city-state of over 25m people that is more comparable to Hong Kong or Singapore than the rest of the UK or Europe, according to new property market research. Read more

Emily Cadman

KPCB’s 2013 internet trends report from Mary Meeker is, as ever, a densely packed read (117 pages) that’s become essential reference material.

Whilst many of the trends identified are well known – the rise of mobile access to the internet and wearable technology – here are the five standout charts and tables that provide food for thought.

1. Sixty percent of the top 25 technology companies (ranked by market capitalisation) in the US were founded by first- and second-generation Americans

Rank Company Founder/co-founder Generation
1 Apple Steve Jobs 2nd – Syria
2 Google Sergey Brin 1st – Russia
3 IBM Herman Hollerith 2nd – Germany
4 Microsoft Bill Gates n/a
5 Oracle Larry Ellison 2nd – Russia
6 Amazon Jeff Bezos 2nd – Cuba
7 Cisco Leonard Bosack n/a
8 Intel Andrew Grove 1st – Hungary
9 Ebay Pierre Omidyar 1st – France
10 Facebook Mark Zuckerberg n/a
11 EMC Roger Marino 2nd – Italy
12 Hewlett-Packard William Hewlett n/a
13 Texas Instruments Cecil Green 1st – UK
14 Vmware Edouard Bugnion 1st – Switzerland
15 Priceline Jay Walker n/a
16 Automatic Data Processing Henry Taub 2nd – Poland
17 Salesforce March Benioff n/a
18 Dell Michael Dell n/a
19 Yahoo Jerry Yang 1st – Taiwan
20 Cognizant Technology Francisco D’Souza 1st – Nairobi
21 Adobe John Warnock n/a
22 Broadcom Henry Samueli 2nd – Poland
23 Intuit Scott Cook n/a
24 Linkedin Konstantin Guericke 1st – Germany
25 Symantec Gary Hendrix n/a

(Source: KPCB pg87, the Partnership for a New American Economy)

2. In the last five years, the amount of digital information created and shared has grown nine fold to nearly two zettabytes*– and is predicted to accelerate

Source: KPCB

*1 zettabyte= 1 trillion gigabytes. Source: IDC report “Extracting value from chaos Read more

Government officials are distorting official data to such an extent that in some cases the information is “no longer true and fair”, according to a damning report by a group of parliamentarians.

Officials “sometimes go too far to create a newsworthy headline” while statisticians’ fear of appearing biased means they are reluctant to explain data properly, the House of Commons public administration committee said. Read more

Data visualisation is the latest fashion in numerate journalism, albeit one that harks back to the likes of Florence Nightingale. Data visualisation creates powerful, elegant images from complex data. It’s like good prose: a pleasure to experience and a force for good in the right hands, but also seductive and potentially deceptive. Because we have less experience of data visualisation than of rhetoric, we are naive, and allow ourselves to be dazzled. Too much data visualisation is the statistical equivalent of dazzle camouflage: striking looks grab our attention but either fail to convey useful information or actively misdirect us.

 Read more

Officials who spent their days under a mango tree falsifying forms. Villagers who were reachable only by canoe or whose first inclination was to attack the census takers. Such suspicion of government that businesses refused to provide data. More than 200 languages, 160m people, 36 states and 774 local government areas.

These were among the challenges that greeted Yemi Kale when he was appointed Nigeria’s statistician-general two years ago – and some of the reasons why his quest to provide more accurate gross domestic product figures for Africa’s second-largest economy are taking so long.

The National Bureau of Statisticshas been working since early 2012 to gather enough data to rebase Nigeria’s GDP, which is at present measured against output and consumption patterns from 1990, when booming sectors like mobile telecommunications and the “Nollywood” film industry did not exist. Most developed countries change their calculations every five years.Analysts expect that Nigeria’s economy, which the NBS put at $258bn in 2012, will see a significant upward revision after rebasing, as happened in Ghana in 2010, when GDP grew by 60 per cent following a similar exercise. Renaissance Capital said in a report this month it expected a 40 per cent increase Nigeria’s economy, which would measure it at $361bn, using current figures, close to that of South Africa’s, which is estimated at $385bn.

 Read more

Emily Cadman

Earnings growth, unemployment numbers, the number of people in work. All vital barometers of the UK’s economic picture and the reason why the monthly ONS labour market statistics report never fails to make headline news.

But alongside these well known statistics, there are a few lesser viewed numbers worth keeping an eye on to gain a more nuanced picture of the labour market.

Actual hours worked

As it says on the tin, this estimates the actual number of hours worked in the economy, seasonally adjusted. In May, this hit a new high – above the pre-recession peak.

 Read more

Iain Duncan SmithLast year I got a call from someone at DWP. The call went roughly as follows:

DWP: We’ve got a story for you. Figures show that the benefit cap is working and it hasn’t even been brought in yet.

Me: Really? How do they do that?

DWP: Well the number of people who have come off benefits since we announced the policy is XXX thousand. [I forget the actual number the person used.]

 Read more

Professors Reinhart and Rogoff were embarrassed by a spreadsheet gaffe. Now statisticians within the Japanese government are smarting, after a private-sector economist pointed out errors that led them to overstate weakness in the economy during the fourth quarter last year.

In an announcement to the Japanese press club on Tuesday evening, the Cabinet Office said that a miscalculation of the value of trade in services between October and December meant that nominal gross domestic product was reported as shrinking by 0.3 per cent, rather than the true figure of 0.1 per cent.

 Read more

HSE data show more tower cranes have been erected in London since 2010 than in the rest of the UK combined

With Britain’s economy bumping along the bottom and official data prone to large revisions, analysts have been on the lookout for indicators of regional and national recovery.

Until now, no one spotted a good set of figures, quietly collated at the Health and Safety Executive. Cranes puncturing the skyline are the most visible indicator of economic dynamism and have often been used to gauge the heat in economies as diverse as Dubai or China and the torpor of Tokyo.

The HSE started requiring the operators of tower cranes – used for new office buildings, infrastructure, larger residential blocks and big public sector projects – to register their addresses in 2010, providing an invaluable snapshot of the building industry in action.

The results show a remarkable degree of concentration in London and its surrounding counties, signifying a gulf between the optimism about a prosperous future for the capital and pessimism in the rest of the UK.

With London home to only one in eight people in the UK, it has seen more tower cranes notified to the HSE than all the rest of the UK put together. Almost eight in 10 cranes were in London, the southeast and the east of England.

 Read more