China’s Imbalanced Trade with the United States, in Four Charts

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Economy & Finance, Policy & Politics

A trade war could be looming between the United States and China, fueled by President Trump’s fixation on the two nations’ unbalanced import-export relationship.

The trade imbalance between the two countries — which might not hurt the United States that much — stems from the fact that China sells more to us than it buys, essentially.

That’s largely driven by macroeconomic factors, not some malicious intent: China is a low-cost manufacturing powerhouse, and the United States is an economy dominated by domestic consumption.

These charts help explain the $570 billion overall trade relationship between world’s largest economies.

First, here’s how the trade has changed over time. The United States imported $460 billion in goods from China last year. That figure has steadily increased in recent decades as China emerged as Asia’s top manufacturer. Exports from the United States to China, which doesn’t yet have the same per-capita domestic consumption as America, haven’t kept pace (again, not that we should be worried).

Here’s the same data, told with a column chart. It shows trade between the two countries in proportion. About 20% of our trade with China last year, and over recent years, has been from exports. Imports represent about 80% of our goods exchanges, on the other hand.

The resulting balance of trade, or trade deficit in this case, has also grown steadily over the years. These charts show the change, year by year, since 1998. Red bars represent the growing trade deficit in billions of dollars by month.

This measure — the trade balance — varies widely by country. One way to examine the relationship with other countries is to look at the balance in the context of the respective total trade. How much does the balance represent as a percentage of overall transactions, for example?

These charts show that figure for America’s top-40 trading partners in 2008. Blue bars reflect a positive trade balance for the United States. Red bars mean it suffered a trade deficit with a particular country in a given year.

When examined this way, you can see that China isn’t the only country in the world to sell more to Americans than it buys. China’s deficit might be huge — its population and output is quite large — but the trade deficit looks similar to other countries figures when viewed proportionally.

Promo background image courtesy Keith Roper.

Visualizing #NICAR18, Part II

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Uncategorized

I posted recently about the NICAR journalism conference, held this year in Chicago — and it turns out news nerds like to tweet.

To keep track of all the conference chatter, I dumped each mention of the #NICAR18 hashtag using Python, eventually collecting some 4,100 tweets.

I used #nicar18 several times. Others were even more prolific. Here are those with more than 10 uses during the conference:

Next, I created a histogram with average #nicar18 tweet counts by hour for the three full days: Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It shows when people sent the most tweets — and that they apparently took more breaks during lunch and just before the first afternoon sessions began.

The pattern is also clear here in a more granular view of daily tweet counts by hour:

This tweet volume, which only captures people tweeting with the hashtag, was posted by attendees from across the globe. This year’s conference, as I mentioned in the previous post, had record-breaking attendance: more than 1,200.

Here’s where the attendees came from:

These types of maps are imperfect, of course, especially on mobile. For one, it’s tough to decipher attendance from the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.

Here’s a more focused version (still a little nuclear blasty), if that helps (please note that the scale is different from the map above):

See you next year, NICARians!

Charting North Korean Provocations. A Case of ‘The Mondays’?

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: South Korea

As a newspaper reporter living in South Korea, I’m always aware that a “provocation” by our friends in the North — a missile launch, a nuclear test, or some other incident — could occur on any day.

A recent missile launch came on a Sunday morning, for example, disrupting our family plans. (That’s part of the job, of course).

But which days have been more likely for provocations, I wondered? Thanks to a handy database from the Center for Strategic & International Studies, we now know.

Since 2001, North Korean leaders seem to prefer … Mondays?

The trend is clear in the data: Compared with any other day, provocations have been twice as common on the first work day of the week.

The data also reveal some interesting tidbits about the North’s provocations. Thanks to a recent surge in missile tests, the number of provocations has increased substantially under the new leader, Kim Jong Un, who took power in late December 2011 after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il:

The Center categorizes the provocations by type, too (though I broke our “exchange of fire” incidents from “Other” in the data):

And here you can see the interest in missile tests. Roughly half of all provocations since 2001 have been missile launches or tests (again, propelled in part by Kim Jong Un’s recent interest):

You can explore the Center’s great work here.

Charting American Birthdays: Yours Probably Isn’t That Special

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics, Policy & Politics

Last week I published a new heatmap exploring the popularity of American birthdays. The chart, which uses darker shades to represent higher average birth counts on specific days, can give the impression that some birthdays are much more common than others.

In reality, outside of some special occasions, namely major holidays, there isn’t a huge amount of diversity in the data set, which has two decades of births aggregated by day. Most birthdays, including my own, are fairly average — especially in the first six months of the year. For example:

Charting Taiwan’s Low Birth Rate, Aging Population

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics

I’m in Taiwan this month to study Mandarin. During breaks, I’ll be posting occasionally about the island nation’s demographics, politics and (sticky) weather.

Like other East Asian democracies, such as South Korea and Japan, Taiwan has a rapidly aging population, posing demographic and economic challenges for policy makers.

One reason for the age increase is that Taiwan has among the lowest birth rates in the world. These charts highlight the trend.

Charting New York City’s Changing Borough Population, Over Time

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics

I woke one recent morning at 5 a.m. obsessing about, of all things, the people of New York City — specifically how the population is distributed among the five boroughs: Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan, Queens and Staten Island. And how that’s changed over time.

I had a general idea. But my nerd brain needed to know for sure. So I went to Wikipedia for data. These charts show the total population, by borough, since 1790.

This chart shows how the proportion of New York City residents in each borough has shifted over time. Decades ago, Manhattan was the center of population. Not anymore, of course:

Editing O.J. Simpson: Charting Changes to His Wikipedia Page

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Crime, Sports

I’ve just finished watching ESPN’s fabulous O.J.: Made in America, a five-part documentary about the Hall of Fame football player.

Somewhere in the process of digesting this latest — and, perhaps, best — telling of O.J.’s story, I scoured Wikipedia for details about his life. I discovered that the page has been edited more than 4,000 times since it went up in 2003, back when Wikipedia user “Vera Cruz” posted the first biographical snippet.

Since then, users have slowly edited — and vandalized — the current bio’s 5,000 words, a process I’ve charted below.

Charting Baby Gender, Birth Date

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Demographics

My wife and I had friends over last night, and we asked 20* of them to guess a few critical stats about our impending baby (among the reasons this blog hasn’t exactly been “daily” lately).

Here’s how they guessed on birth date (the official due date is Sept. 24):

They were split on gender (we’re waiting for the surprise):

The average guess on weight was 7 lbs, 7 ounces, btw.

We removed one friend’s entry because, frankly, 27 pounds is an outlier.

Charting SCOTUS Decisions Over Time

By Matt Stiles | | Topics: Policy & Politics

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to release rulings on key cases over the next week, including the much-awaited decision on the Affordable Care Act.

The court has seen its workload decrease over the last 50 years. Last year, for example, the court issued just 71 rulings, the fewest since at least 1946, the earliest date in the Supreme Court Database. (It decided 197 cases in 1967). This chart shows the trend over time: