BlogCon CLT Slide Deck

Yesterday I spoke at BlogConCLT on telling stories around data. I wanted to put the slide deck up, so attendees could go back and relive the dream. I have all the text for the presentation in the notes, so if you prefer, you can just imagine your favorite speaking giving this presentation instead of me.

BlogCon CLT Dramatic Visualizations Presentation (PowerPoint file, 44ish MB)

It is so large because I embedded videos into the presentation. The video I didn’t embed is the one that I used as an example:


  1. […] – Data Visualization And The National Debt – via […]

  2. […] Alex Lundry and PoliticalMath put together a fantastic presentation on data visualization, and PM has posted his slides here. His video, putting the spending rates of recent presidents in perspective as a cross-country road trip, can be found here. […]

  3. dawn s says:

    I love Karl Denninger’s work but I can’t understand his visuals half as well as yours. Can you make this make more sense?

  4. SM says:

    You know that debt is determined as a function of GDP, right? Same with federal spending? Did you miss where $1 trillion in 1980 is a lot more than $1 trillion in 2010?

    You should have gotten a degree in economics instead of communications if you wanted to understand the federal budget.

    Do you understand the difference between deficit spending on wars and tax cuts, and spending to get us out of the greatest recession since the great depression? Some would say the first is “irresponsible” while also saying that leaving millions jobless is “irresponsible” when there are perfectly reasonable ways to end the joblessness, such as, you know, deficit spending.

    If you really mean it when you say, “I’m not looking for fame or a fight. I just know that we live in a world filled with numbers and I want to help people understand what those numbers mean,” then you should probably start with some self-help. You should probably understand what you’re talking about before you start teaching others.

  5. Bill says:


    Those numbers were inflation adjusted. An Inflation adjusted trillion in 2012 is exactly the same as an inflation adjusted trillion in 1990.

    Yes, politicalmath *does* understand the difference between military spending, stimulus spending, and welfare spending. That primarily being that you can *stop* the first 2 types, whereas the third continues unless you make *great* efforts to stop.

    In short, he *does* understand what he’s talking about. And you do not.

  6. SM says:

    Billy, the point is not whether they were “inflation adjusted” – the point is what the relationship is between $1 trillion in 1980 is to GDP, vs. $1 trillion in 2009 compared to GDP. For example, the government deficit in 1945 was 27% of GDP. In the “worst” year since obama took office, 2009, it was less than 10% of GDP.

    So, again, $1 trillion in deficit spending in 1980, or 1945, or any year before 2010, is a hell of a lot more than $1 trillion in 2010, relative to the size of the economy. For reference, $1 trillion would have been 36% of GDP in 1980, but only 7% of GDP in 2010. You see, the economy has grown over time.

    You people couldn’t pass econ 101 and here you are trying to lecture others.

  7. SM says:

    PS. The only postwar presidents that increased the debt as a percentage of GDP were reagan, bush I and bush II (and now obama getting stuck with a destroyed economy and no choice in the matter – austerity will just make it worse – see europe). Yet you people kept voting for them. Where was the concern before? What’s the difference between this presidents increase in debt and all the other increases in debt you people voted for for the last 30 years?

  8. Bill says:

    @sm Look up “inflation adjusted”. It’s in the dictionary. Seriously.

    WW2 deficit spending had one critical difference to the current deficit spending. WARS END.

    Austerity is not making Europe worse, It’s the only option for those nations that are no longer able to borrow money. It’s finally accepting the pain of the past policies.

  9. SM says:

    Look up “Debt to GDP.” Seriously.

    Current deficit spending will end when our economy’s GDP (the denominator) is back to its full potential. Stimulus ends just like war stimulus ends. Even you concede with your dialogue that we need more stimulus.

    Not only is austerity making Europe worse, but we’ve just conducted an experiment in the world with stimulus v. austerity. Low stimulus in the US has caused a stagnant, but growing country. Europe is now in a recession because of its austerity. This isn’t even debatable anymore. Not only that, you don’t even know what “past policies” are in Europe. Fun fact, debt to gdp was FALLING in italy, and ireland and SPAIN, the country being decimated the worst now, were running SURPLUSES. You may not know this, but the ECB is the central bank in europe and there is another alternative to austerity: its called STIMULUS. It worked in the 40s here, a weaker version worked this decade here, and it could work there too. Only ignorant conservatives are in the way.

    You people make it up as you go along and have no room for facts. Your failed economic policies are once again destroying the world. Just stop.

  10. Bill says:

    Yes, I know what the ECB is, and I know that their irresponsible lending practices bear the primary responsibility for allowing the debt to GDP ratios of those nations to climb so dramatically.

    And I also know that the “austerity” is not what is hurting europe, and “stimulus” is not what pulled America out of the great depression. That is simply a complete misreading of the economic history. The destruction of the industrial capacity of the rest of the world is what pulled america out of the depression.

    There is more than 1 school of thought on economics sparky, the “neo-keynesian” is only one of them, and one with a genuinely miserable track record.

    Yes, national debt is generally tracked as a fraction of GDP, but it isn *not* the only valid metric. Inflation adjusted nominal is very close to as valid, and far less subject to dishonest tampering.

  11. SM says:

    First, you concede that ireland and spain were running SURPLUSES – which is the opposite of BORROWING – on the eve of the crisis. So, again, how is it that spain is getting even worse and ireland is still decimated? They weren’t borrowing money from the ECB, contrary to your claims, nor anyone else. Your story doesn’t hold water.

    Next, to test your claim that the ECB was lending money to a country that was running a deficit, we’ll have to pick one, like greece for example. Turns out that Greece’s deficits weren’t financed by lending from the ECB, they were financed by banks, companies, and people around the world buying their government bonds, all on their own. Again, your story doesn’t hold water.

    Austerity isn’t hurting europe? Again, the world just tried an experiment, where the US had a small stimulus, and countries in europe tried austerity. It turns out when you fire the workers, they have no money to buy anything, and your economy does not get better. In what world do you live that austerity is not hurting europe? Almost without exception, the countries of the world that tried austerity are now suffering worse outcomes than the countries that tried any sort of stimulus. We all have access to the information, you can no longer claim the sun revolves around the earth.

    War stimulus is indeed what pulled america out of the great depression. Again, in what world do you live? We all have history books. When you pay workers (the opposite of firing them) to do thing (build tanks, bombs, or march around), they have money, which they can then spend on other goods (houses, food, education, etc). This was the TEXTBOOK EXAMPLE of how to get out of a depression/recession that has caused a lack of aggregate demand. Again, an inconvenient fact of history for your fairy tales. What do you call the massive run up in government debt, and the government deficit spending, while unemployment rates reached rock bottom during the 40s? According to your side, with all that government spending, unemployment rates during the 40s should have INCREASED. Not so.


  12. SM says:

    Now, tell me exactly how having consumers half way around the world with no jobs or money because we have decimated them, made our country better off economically? You believe in free trade, comparative advantage and all that, right? How did it help US to have no japan or germany to sell anything to, to trade with? Are you now arguing that free trade is a bad thing, that it is not mutually beneficial to both countries? Holy hell. Tell the class how they were able to get money to purchase goods from us if they didn’t have any industry left that was able to create goods to sell or trade. In order for you to come up with a coherent story to deny the effect of war stimulus you now have to jettison the rest of your economic beliefs. Go ahead and make the argument that we gave/loaned them money after the war (marshall plan) so that they could purchase our output, comrade. Tell us how that sweet, sweet “socialism” was responsible for the greatest expansion of middle class wealth in our countries history, or just make up another bs story that is at odds with the facts.

    There may be more than one “school” on economic thought, but only one is correct, and its apparent to everyone you’re in the wrong school.

  13. Bill says:

    The problem with “stimulus” isn’t that it doesn’t work, it does. If you spend deficit money to hire people, people are employed. Until you stop doing it, at which point, you’re right where you started, except that now you have crushiung debt.

    This is the fundamental misreading of history that led to teh utter and complete failure that is neo-keynesian economics.

    The unemployment did go down due to all that “stimulus”, when you send the unemployed off to die by the millions, that does indeed tend to reduce the unemployment rate.

    But it isn’t *genuine* prosperity. It ends on the same day that the stimulus is cut off. We’re seeing that here now.

    Ireland fell off the cliff for different reasons than greece did. Ireland killed themselves recapitalizing banks. Banks that had overleveraged themselves. At the behest of the Irish government. They have also had no “austerity” yet. But they will.

    Spain ran a “surplus” for exactly 1 year. They had been borrowing billions to fund ill-advised “green energy” programs, which resulted in their industries being uncompetitive and therefore the first against the wall when the crash came.

    Not everything fits into your narrow little idea of “monetary policy”, there is a real economy that has to operate despite the hamhanded meddlings of small minds like your own.

    The problem is, like I have said, “stimulus” works… And then the poison pill kills you.

    It *was not* ww2 “stimulus” that pulled the US out of recession. It was a favorable *real economy*, in which the US had 75% of the worlds industrial capacity, half the worlds arable cropland, and a population that knew that to get wealthy, you *make things*, and to get poor, you *print money*.

    Our decision making processes had some effect on europe. But they are doing the right thing, buckling down and producing a *real* recovery, while *we* are spending trillions on ill-considered and ultimately futile consumptive subsidies. Consumptive subsidies in a nation with a major trade deficit are the absolute *height* of stupidity. They sure do stimulate the economy… Of China.

  14. Ediane says:

    your concept is right. i think this way too. thanks for explaining it well.