Peek into beauty 2
Light entertainment

Cashing in good

A superb effort by the Wall Street Journal.

This chart tells us corporations are hoarding cash, and the level of stashing varies by industry.

Wsj_companycash

The article is here, and the interactive version of the chart here


Wsj_cashhoardexpandedClicking on each small multiple reveals the detailed trajectory over the 20-year period.

In the print version, the trajectory is printed in faded white within the larger plot. 

Both online and in print, the designers were thinking about foreground / background.




Most impressive is the highly successful attempt to simplify the data, or equivalently, to elevate the trend: each trajectory is represented by three points, with straight lines drawn between those points.  The points chosen were a decade apart so the lines represented straight-line growth/decline within a decade.

Can three points truly represent the 20-year trajectory?  You bet.  Clicking on each of the industry charts, I found that the only one industry for which the three points did not adequately capture what happened was the Energy industry.


Wsj_cashenergy The three-point summary obscured the increase in the cash stockpile for Energy companies in the early 2000s which peaked in 2004. Simplifying anything runs the risk of misrepresenting specific elements; however, a simplified message is much, much more likely to affect readers than inundating readers with too much data.




I do have reservations about the use of color and the legend.  The industry names could be printed at the bottom of each chart and it would be clearer.  For such a well-designed chart, color is not necessary either.


Reference: "Jittery companies stash cash", Wall Street Journal, Nov 3 2009.

 

Comments

Darbsnave

Corporations hoard cash (WSJ, via JunkCharts): http://bit.ly/4E5G9k

Jon Peltier

The energy curve could be described reasonably well using five points, at five-year intervals. As long as there are obvious markers (like these), I'm usually not too concerned that the in-between range has been ignored. When people draw straight-line segments without the markers, or worse, smoothed curves that connect the points but hide their position, I become concerned.

Jeff Weir

That's a cool chart. It took me a bit of playing around to work out how to get back to the original chart once you had expanded one of the series. I tried clicking on the arrow button next to the 'Show All'label, without realising that the 'Show All' label itself was a control.

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