The new radio series from Sir Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, is an entertaining, accessible look at Britain’s social history – and one that readers of this blog will probably find rather interesting.
(c) Financial Times/Shaun Curry
Sir Andrew opens the first episode declaring “It is about us, not governments”, and that is the theme running through the series. With a mixture of single statistics, and interviews he tries to build a picture of changes in the life of ordinary British people, rather than looking at policy.
With each episode clocking it at around 15 minutes, and the timeframe running from medieval times to the current day, the programme aims for historical sweep, rather than contemporary analysis. Read more
After five years of historically low interest rates across the US, UK and eurozone, Wednesday’s vastly improved job forecast from the Bank of England raised the prospect of a return to more normal monetary policy.
A report out today from McKinsey attempts to quantify the impact of years of ultra lose monetary policy has been on the winners – and losers. Whilst there are few surprises in the report, it does attempt to put numbers on the winners and losers.
Unsurprisingly, it is governments that come out on top. The consultancy estimates that between 2007 and 2012 the US, UK and eurozone governments collectively benefited to the tune of $1.6tr from lower borrowing costs and the increased profits from central banks.
For consumers though it is a mixed bag. Read more
Beneath Wednesday’s headline estimation the UK’s population will rise by just under 10 million over the next 25 years is a trove of data set to be picked over by statisticians.
Whilst the Office for National Statistics stresses the numbers are not forecasts and do not predict the impact of future policies, the numbers form the basis for a host of policy calculations – notably in health, education, housing and pensions. Here are a few of the key underlying trends: Read more
Can social media data give useful real-time information during the progress of natural disasters? A group of academics thinks it could.
Researchers from Warwick University in the UK looked at pictures uploaded to Flickr during the lead-up and aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. As the two graphs below show, there was a strong correlation between the number of pictures taken and atmospheric pressure.
It is déjà vu time for Sony investors as the Japanese electronics company revises down its income expectations again.
The profit warning is the latest in a slew of downgrades over the past few years – in 2011 Sony infamously downgraded its net income forecasts four times.
The red bars below are Sony’s net income forecasts for 2011 at various times, and the blue bar shows the actual net loss of Y456.7bn.
The Financial Times has won two prestigious Eppy awards for excellence in online journalism.
The UK Austerity Audit, a data-led project investigating the impact of sweeping benefit changes on local economies, won in the best investigative feature category and the FT picked up a second gong for the best mobile website. Read more
Tim Berners-Lee (c) Getty
New research from Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web Foundation and the Open Data Institute places the UK at the top of the league table for open data, ahead of the United States.
The report comes ahead of an open government summit in London where David Cameron is to announce a proposal for a public register of company ownership which will show who ultimately owns and controls businesses.
The survey of the state of open data in 77 counties, notes that 55 per cent of the countries surveyed now have open data initiatives, but reiterates familiar problems for all users of open data:
- Valuable but potentially controversial datasets – such as company registers and land registers – are among the least likely to be openly released
- When they are released, government datasets are often issued in inaccessible formats
- Less than 7 per cent of the datasets surveyed are published in both machine readable forms and under open licences
- Data is often released only in highly aggregated forms
- Whilst countries might boast about releasing hundreds of datasets, if they aren’t the numbers demanded by citizens or those than can enable transparency or innovation there is little potential to deliver impact
Most of the US statistical agencies are facing near-complete closure during the governmental shutdown, raising doubts about whether the US government will be able to stick to the planned data release schedule in the coming weeks.
The non-farm payroll numbers in particular are crucial information for the Federal Reserve as it weighs whether to ease back on its QE programme. Read more
By Emily Cadman and Callum Locke
Think data visualisation is a new thing? Think again. This fascinating map dates from 1893. Read more
Ed Miliband’s pledge at the Labour party conference to freeze consumer power prices until 2017 has pitted energy groups’ claims that a cap would hit much-needed investment against those who believe consumers are paying over the odds.
Here is a snapshot of what the currently available statistics show us about domestic power bills:
Data from the Department of Energy and Climate Change is clear that consumers have been facing steadily rising energy bills with a real terms rise of over 40 per cent for direct debit consumers for electricity between 2007 and 2012.
Latest official statistics released on Respect the Aged Day in Japan mark a symbolic milestone for the country with just shy of 32 million people – a quarter of the overall population – now over 65-years-old. (Hat tip to my colleague Ben McLannahan for spotting the numbers.)
Japan’s statistics agency also estimates that by 2035 the proportion of elderly people will rise to over 33 per cent.
Last year the IMF estimated that Japan’s working age population in 2050 would have fallen to the same size as it was at the end of the Second World War. Read more
Investors looking for information on Twitter ahead of its anticipated public offering have very little to go on: the company revealed nothing of its plans, other than a single 135 character tweet.
The one thing we do have some information on – drawn almost entirely from third party monitoring firms – is its user base. Launched in 2006, Global Web Index estimated in January this year the micro blogging site had 288 million active users and is the fastest growing social networking service. Read more
Chancellor George Osborne felt confident to state today that the UK is “turning a corner” and returning to health following a run of positive economic data. Here are the key charts supporting his claim, as well as a few on why it isn’t yet time to bring out the champagne.
The data the chancellor is banking on…
National Institute of Economic and Social Research (Niesr) last week estimated that the UK economy expanded at its fastest rate in more than three years in August.
Further confirmation – if it was needed – of how rapidly the media industry is changing comes in today’s ONS statistical bulletin on internet access.
This year, for the first time, the majority of adults in the UK report reading news online (55 percent), up from 47 percent in 2012. And the pace of adoption has been rapid.
Whilst the growth in interest in online news offers opportunities for publishers, coincidentally, an interesting study out today from City University’s Neil Thurman provides a caveat. It suggests that despite the big increase in online readership substantially more reader time is spent on print editions than online.
But, the clear theme of the ONS bulletin is how deeply the internet has become embedded in daily life to an extent unimaginable only a few years ago. Read more
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
||2nd – Syria
||1st – Russia
||2nd – Germany
||2nd – Russia
||2nd – Cuba
||1st – Hungary
||1st – France
||2nd – Italy
||1st – UK
||1st – Switzerland
||Automatic Data Processing
||2nd – Poland
||1st – Taiwan
||1st – Nairobi
||2nd – Poland
||1st – Germany
(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
*1 zettabyte= 1 trillion gigabytes. Source: IDC report “Extracting value from chaos“ Read more
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.
Spot quiz: name the leading global causes of death.
The big ones are easy to name – heart diseases, respiratory diseases, malaria, HIV/AIDS etc – but coming in at number eight, road traffic injuries is perhaps less intuitive.
Today’s World Health Organisation report on road safety is a call for more legislation – noting that only 7 percent of the world’s population is covered by legislation covering all five major traffic risks identified by the WHO. In practice this means laws against speeding and driving while intoxicated and requiring motorcycle helmets, seat belts, and child restraints.
It is a dense report worth digesting in more detail, but for now here are the highlight statistics from the report (all graphics courtesy WHO):
1. Although middle income countries – those with a gross national income per capital between $1,006 to $ 12,275 – have only half of the world’s cars, they have 80 per cent of the world’s traffic deaths – and deaths there have been increasing.
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
One of the more interesting aspects of Friday’s ONS release on the UK internet access patterns is the reasons why households don’t have internet access.
Much of the data release is as you would expect: more households have internet access, and more people are using computers daily, a trend especially noticeable among the young. Read more