Unexpectedly Intriguing!
August 30, 2007

Not long ago, we introduced our GDP bullet chart, which allows us to present a wealth of recent and historic economic output data in a very small space. We've been tinkering with this method of data visualization off and today's release of the preliminary GDP data for the second quarter of 2007 provides an opportunity to show what we've done with it in the days since we first presented it.

First, here is our combined presentation of both the one-quarter and the two-quarter change in Real GDP in one image (click the image for a larger version): Preliminary 2007Q2 Real GDP Data, One-Quarter and Two-Quarter Growth Rates

We have widened the bars and increased the font sizes to make them more readable at the smaller scale at which Blogger presents larger images.

Widening the bars also makes it possible to incorporate more data. Now, in addition to the growth rate of just one-quarter ago, which appears above the current quarter's bar, we've also incorporated the growth rates measured two quarters ago below the current quarter's bar.

The benefit of adding this information is that we're now able to span a longer period of time in our comparatively small space. The one-quarter Real GDP growth rate now directly presents data going back over the previous three quarters, while the two-quarter GDP growth rate bullet chart quickly communicates data covering a one year period of time. The tables below illustrate the time periods covered for each bullet chart. First, for the One-Quarter Real GDP Growth Rate Bullet Chart:

One-Quarter Real GDP Growth Rate Bullet Chart
Quarter Represented Start of One-Quarter Period End of One-Quarter Period
Current Quarter End of Previous Quarter End of Most Recent Quarter
One Quarter Ago End of Two Quarters Ago End of Previous Quarter
Two Quarters Ago End of Three Quarters Ago End of Two Quarters Ago

And for the Two-Quarter Real GDP Growth Rate Bullet Chart:

Two-Quarter Real GDP Growth Rate Bullet Chart
Quarter Represented Start of Two-Quarter Period End of Two-Quarter Period
Current Quarter End of Two Quarters Ago End of Most Recent Quarter
One Quarter Ago End of Three Quarters Ago End of One Quarter Ago
Two Quarters Ago End of Four Quarters Ago End of Two Quarters Ago

All of this is presented against the historical context of GDP growth rates in the U.S. Here, we've kept the GDP growth spectrum much as before, with the color transitions coinciding with post-1980 rates of economic growth as measured by "temperature" gradients, indicating cold (purple-to-blue), cool (blue-to-green), moderate (green-to-yellow), warm (yellow-to-orange) and hot (orange-red).

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