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How Much
January 15, 2020

Tesla’s stock just hit another all-time high. The company now has a higher market capitalization than GM, even though Tesla only sold about 367,000 vehicles last year. Clearly some investors believe the electric car market has a lot of upside, and our latest visual provides some clues why.

  • Louisiana has the highest average monthly loan payments for electric vehicles, a major reason why the state only has 0.28% market penetration.
  • California has the highest portion of electric cars on the road at 7.84%, despite an average monthly loan size of $803.
  • Some states, like Colorado and Oregon, post relatively high rates of electric vehicle ownership perhaps due to small monthly loan payments (2.61% and 3.41%, respectively).
  • States with the lowest numbers of electric vehicles also have economies that are heavily dependent on traditional fossil fuels, like Mississippi (0.22%), North Dakota (0.24%) and West Virginia (0.27%).

We created our map by combining electric car sales figures from Auto Alliance and average loan amounts from AutoWise. Darker shades of green indicate that electric car loans are higher, and larger pink circles indicate greater market saturation. This gives you a quick and easy way to understand a snapshot of the electric car industry today.

Top 10 States with the Highest Monthly Payment for Electric Cars

1. Louisiana: $849, 0.28% market share
2. Nevada: $837, 1.62% market share
3. Georgia: $821, 1.18% market share
4. Mississippi: $808, 0.22% market share
5. California: $803, 7.84% market share
6. Alabama: $802, 0.41% market share
7. Arizona: $800, 1.84% market share
8. Oklahoma: $797, 0.35% market share
9. Kansas: $781, 0.96% market share
10. Illinois: $778, 1.20% market share

We can learn several insights about the electric vehicle industry from our visualization. First off, let’s assume the size of an auto loan is an accurate indication of how expensive it is to purchase an electric vehicle. Cheaper cars would have lower monthly loan payments, and vice versa. A big factor determining the cost of electric vehicles is state tax breaks and subsidies. Electric vehicle market share isn’t correlated with loan size. For example, market share is highest in California at 7.84%, which also has the fifth highest average loan payments. This suggests that things like environmentalism and the availability of charging stations have more to do with electric cars than simple economics.

But that’s not always the case. Some states, like Colorado, enjoy comparably lower loan payments ($699) and also see an uptick in electric car ownership (2.61%). Oregon is another example ($708 and 3.41%). More interesting is how far behind the Northeast is in terms of market share compared to the West Coast. Massachusetts for example has the highest rate of ownership east of the Mississippi River (2.53%) followed by Connecticut (2.02%).

It’s also worth focusing on the states with the lowest rates of market penetration. Mississippi (0.22%), North Dakota (0.24%) and West Virginia (0.27%) are all heavily dependent on traditional fossil fuels, and they likewise have the lowest rates of ownership. After all, if a lot of people are employed drilling oil and mining coal, it might not be the best idea to drive around in an electric vehicle.

If you’re thinking about buying a car, it always helps to shop around, especially when getting a lower rate can decrease your monthly payment. Our auto loan guide is a great resource to learn more about financing a car. And if you’ve already got a car, our car insurance guide can help you save money too.

Why do you think electric vehicles have been so slow to take off? Would you ever consider owning one? Let us know in the comments.

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How Much
January 13, 2020

Forget the top one percent. The 25 richest people in the world belong to an ultra-elite group of families who control astonishing amounts of wealth. But where do these families come from? And who has the most dynastic wealth?


  • The Walton family remains the world’s wealthiest at $190.5 billion.
  • The Al Saud royal family of Saudi Arabia makes its debut among the world’s wealthiest at $100 billion.
  • The Koch family remains among the world’s richest after brother David’s death.
  • The wealth of the Ambani family, India’s richest, increased $7 billion to $50 billion.

The data comes from Bloomberg's annual report of the twenty-five wealthiest families. Our viz maps out the top 25 wealthiest families and their businesses. A larger circle and darker shade of green indicate a larger net worth. 

Top 10 Richest Families in the World

1. Walton family, Walmart - $190.5 B
2. Mars family, Mars - $126.5 B
3. Koch family, Koch Industries - $124.5 B
4. Al Saud family - $100.0 B
5. Wertheimer family, Chanel - $57.6 B
6. Hermes family, Hermes - $53.1 B
7. Van Damme-De Spoelberch-De Mevius family, Anheuser-Busch InBev - $52.9 B
8. Boehringer-Von Baumbach family, Boehringer Ingelheim - $51.9 B
9. Ambani family, Reliance Industries - $50.4 B
10. Cargill-MacMillan family, Cargill - $42.9 B

Most of the world’s wealthiest families reside in the northern hemisphere: our top ten list features four families from North America, four from Europe and two from Asia. American families take the top three positions with the Walton, Marses and Kochs, respectively. The Waltons, of Walmart fame, retain a majority stake in the company founded by Sam Walton in 1962. This allows the family to maintain considerable control of the company’s strategy, and its profits: the family becomes a staggering $100 million wealthier every day from their stake in the family business. In close competition for the number two spot (indeed, their positions were reversed last year) are the Mars and Kochs family. The latter had a death in the family this year as Koch Industries co-founder David died in August, leaving his wife Julia and their three children an estate that CNN valued at $47.5 billion in 2015. 

A newcomer to Bloomberg’s list this year is the Al Saud royal family of Saudi Arabia. While the wealth is estimated based on payouts from Saudi Arabia’s executive office of the king, the Royal Diwan, Bloomberg concedes the estimate may be too low -- after all, the state-owned Saudi Aramco oil company is the world’s most profitable company. Saudi Aramco, which has recently been taken public, did not perform quite as well as expected by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and shares have dropped an additional 10% from the IPO high amid tensions between the United States and Iran.

So, how do these family fortunes compare to that of the Trumps and the British royal family? The London Evening Standard put the worth of the entire royal family in 2019 at $88 billion. This estimate would put the Windsors squarely in the top five wealthiest families. So why are they missing from the list? Well, as Bloomberg’s methodology states: “clans whose source of wealth is too diffuse or opaque to be valued are excluded.” As for the Trumps, Business Insider put their wealth at $4 billion: that’s still quite a sum, but it pales compared to that of the Walton or Mars family fortune. 

Which of these family fortunes are new to you? Is wealth inequality a concern to you after reading these statistics? Let us know in the comments and share with your friends.

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How Much
January 9, 2020

Last year was a year of change for the economy, including record-low unemployment rates, ballooning national debt, and increased income inequality. However, 2019 also brought about drastic changes in wealth for some of the world’s richest individuals. Our new visualization illustrates some of the most dramatic upswings and downswings for billionaires worldwide, as measured by the changes in their net worth from 2018 to 2019.

  • According to Forbes, the top five “winners” amassed nearly $112 billion in additional net worth from 2018 to 2019, more than double the increase from 2017 to 2018. 
  • Taking a longer-term view, billionaires have fared much better over the past ten years. Since 2010, the 10 richest people in the world increased their net worth by more than half a trillion dollars
  • Although Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg increased his net worth by $22.1 billion in 2019, he had lost $18.7 billion in net worth the previous year. 

The information for this visualization comes from Forbes’ ranking of Biggest Billionaire Winners and Losers of 2019. In creating their list, the publication analyzed the net worth of more than 2,200 billionaires between December 28, 2018 and December 13, 2019. Only billionaires with investments in publicly traded companies were considered, and their wealth was measured in absolute dollars.

In the top half of the visualization, we show the five billionaire “winners” by increasing order of positive changes to net worth. In the bottom half, we show the five billionaire “losers” by increasing order of negative changes to net worth. Each dot in the visualization is equal to $1 billion, and the dots are color-colored in shades of turquoise or pink to indicate magnitude (the darker the color, the greater the amount of money gained or lost, respectively).

Top 5 Biggest Billionaire Winners of 2019

1. Bernard Arnault, Chairman and CEO of LVMH Moët Hennessy–Louis Vuitton: +$40 billion
2. Mark Zuckerberg, Cofounder, Chairman and CEO of Facebook: +$22.1 billion
3. Amancio Ortega, Cofounder of Inditex: +$17.3 billion
4. Steve Ballmer, Owner of the Los Angeles Clippers: +$16.3 billion
5. Mukesh Ambani, Founder and Chairman of Reliance Industries: +$16.1 billion

Top 5 Biggest Billionaire Losers of 2019

1. Azim Premji, Chairman of Wipro Limited (ADR): -$14.1 billion
2. Jeff Bezos, CEO and Founder of Amazon: -$13.1 billion
3. Subhash Chandra, Chairman of Essel Group: -$3.4 billion
4. Travis Kalanick, Cofounder of Uber Technologies Inc.: -$3.1 billion
5. Yan Zhi, Chair of Zall Smart Commerce Group: -$3 billion

Forbes noted that stock performance was a major reason for the changes in wealth. Notably, LVMH stocks soared after the conglomerate’s acquisition of Tiffany & Co., and CEO Bernard Arnault briefly surpassed Jeff Bezos as the richest person in the world. By contrast, the ramifications of Uber’s disastrous IPO in May 2019 took a toll on the wealth of co-founder Travis Kalanick.

Other billionaires experienced changes in wealth for personal reasons. For example, Jeff Bezos of Amazon fame had experienced the biggest increase in net worth in 2018. However, an expensive divorce settlement caused his net worth to decrease significantly in 2019. In addition, Azim Premji donated $7.5 billion of his stake in Wipro to his charitable foundation, bucking the notion that a decrease in wealth is always a bad thing. 

Did anything surprise you about this list? What do you think about the causes of these billionaires’ changes in wealth?  Let us know in the comments.

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How Much
January 7, 2020

The U.S. stock market is booming, the labor market is extremely tight and wages are finally starting to rise. And yet wealth inequality remains at a five-decade high as the top 1% just keep getting richer. Take the founder and CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, who is reportedly worth some $103.9 billion. Such an eye-popping number got us thinking about wealth inequality across the country for ordinary workers.

  • San Jose, CA has the highest rate of wage inequality. The top 90th percentile take home $137,390 more than someone in the 10th percentile.
  • The average wage gap in our visual between the 10th and 90th percentiles is $88,480.
  • There is a clear group of cities where inequality has reached extreme heights, however it remains significant even in places like Peoria, IL.
  • Workers in the 10th percentile do not have a similar distribution of income. Low-wage workers make about the same no matter where they live, always below $27,000.

We built our visualization with numbers from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2018, focusing on the top 50 metro areas with the worst rates of inequality in the country. We ranked each city based on the size of the gap between earners in the 10th and 90th percentiles. We also included figures for the 25th, 50th and 75th percentiles for easy reference. This lets you quickly see which parts of the country have the highest levels of inequality.

Top 10 metros for wage inequality ($ dif. between 10th and 90th percentiles)

1. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA: $137,390
2. San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA: $119,640
3. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV: $119,020
4. California-Lexington Park, MD: $115,300
5. Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT: $108,700
6. Boulder, CO: $104,290
7. New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA: $103,790
8. Boston-Cambridge-Nashua, MA-NH: $103,300
9. Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA: $97,690
10. Huntsville, AL: $97,630

Our visual reveals several key trends about wealth inequality in the U.S. For starters, inequality is severe all across the country. San Jose sits at the absolute extreme end of the spectrum, where the top 90th wage earners rake in $137,390 more than someone in the 10th percentile. San Francisco is not far behind with a gap of $119,640. Clearly Silicon Valley has extraordinary amounts of inequality.

That being said, our visual demonstrates how there’s only a slight drop off in equality across the South and Midwest. In places like Dover-Durham, Honolulu and Peoria, the top earners are still making $75,000 more than workers at the bottom of the income ladder. In fact, for mid-sized cities, the 90th percentile clusters just over $100,000 in total income.

Perhaps the most interesting revelation in our visual is how there isn’t a comparable curve for low-wage workers. Someone in the 10th percentile in San Jose makes about as much money as someone in the 10th percentile in Portland. In other words, we don’t see low-wage earners making more money in places with extremely high wage earners, They no doubt have a higher cost of living, meaning their wages don’t go nearly as far. Policymakers will have to do a lot more than raise the minimum wage to $15 to actually change these figures.

What do you think the greatest drivers of inequality are in the U.S. today? With the economy continuing to grow, do you think the situation will start to improve? Let us know in the comments.

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How Much
January 2, 2020

President Trump boasted at the start of his administration that he would return the country’s GDP growth rate to as high as 4,5 or even 6%. The main reason it’s so hard to believe the U.S. economy could grow that fast is because it is already enormous. Every additional percentage point represents about $2.5 trillion in new wealth. That being said, the economy is still on a roll as it continues its longstanding upward trajectory, as our latest visualization makes clear.

We originally got the idea to illustrate GDP across time by reading a set of figures on The Balance. The Bureau of Economic Analysis is responsible for tracking the numbers. Gross domestic product represents the total monetary value of all final goods and services produced across the economy. It’s a widely accepted way to measure and compare economies. The purple bar across the horizontal axis of our visual indicates a recession. Keep in mind, our figures show real GDP, which takes into account inflation. This means you’re seeing actual economic growth, not changes in the value of a dollar.

The 5 Best Years for GDP Growth

1942: 18.9%
1941: 17.7%
1943: 17.0%
1936: 12.9%
1934: 10.8%

The 5 Worst Years for GDP Decline

1932: -12.9%
1946: -11.6%
1930: -8.5%
1931: -6.4%
1938: -3.3%

Taking a long 90-year view of GDP growth, combined with major historical events, reveals a few interesting facts. First, the sharpest increases and decreases both happened during the 1930s and 1940s. The Great Depression obviously damaged the economy, and production for World War II clearly spurred economic growth. Bear in mind, however, the U.S. economy was relatively small, staying below $3T until 1959. In other words, big swings up or down are large in terms of percentages but small compared to the economy today.

In fact, the best time for GDP growth happened in the three decades following World War II. The Korean War and the Vietnam War positively impacted U.S. economic growth, or at least they didn’t halt the upward trajectory of GDP. The moon landing no doubt had a positive impact. The Apollo space program employed roughly 400,000 people. Meanwhile, the U.S. government starting spending lots of money on social programs and left the gold standard, allowing it to enjoy a long period of prosperity.

More recently, the Great Recession took an obvious bite out of GDP, slashing some $500B from the economy in real terms. The country has clearly recovered, with GDP hovering around $19.12T as of Q3 2019. It’s an open debate to what extent Trump’s tax cuts positively impacted the economy. The stock market is near an all-time high, however so is the deficit at $984B. And yet the country will need to double its most recent GDP growth of 1.9% to meet the low end of President Trump’s predictions.

What do you think? Have the Trump tax cuts helped the economy to grow, or will they end up hurting the country in the long term? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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How Much
December 30, 2019

Economic growth headlines the news in good times and bad. Financial analysts continually forecast and tweak outlooks for the U.S. and the global economy. With the holiday season coming to an end, Americans spent 3.4% more than the prior year on top of an 18.8% growth in online sales. Although the political focus has been on manufacturing growth, services still contribute more than any other component to the U.S. Gross Domestic Product. But is this economic creation equal across the U.S.?

  • California, Texas, and New York make up nearly 1/3rd of the U.S. GDP.
  • Rural and less populated states and counties tend to contribute less to the U.S. GDP.
  • The total population within a given area correlates with GDP output, not necessarily population density.
  • States like Washington and Texas will be hit disproportionately by the tariff wars.
  • 6 of the top 20 counties are located in California.
  • The top 35 counties make up 1/3rd of the U.S. GDP.

Our visualization pulls together data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Activity and maps out GDP by county using 2012 chained dollars. The map looks at each county’s production towards GDP, whether through manufacturing, services, or otherwise. As you look through the data, consider how these highlighted areas line up with population centers and large cities across the United States. Think about what each state produces, what are their most profitable industries, as well as their growth potential.

Top 10 States Contributing to GDP

1. California - 14.6%
2. Texas - 9.2%
3. New York - 7.7%
4. Florida - 5.0%
5. Illinois - 4.1%
6. Pennsylvania - 3.8%
7. Ohio - 3.2%
8. New Jersey - 3.0%
9. Georgia - 2.8%
10. Washington - 2.7%

Top 10 Counties Contributing to GDP

1. Los Angeles, California - 3.8%
2. New York, New York - 3.2%
3. Cook, Illinois - 1.9%
4. Harris, Texas - 1.9%
5. Santa Clara, California - 1.7%
6. King, Washington - 1.5%
7. Dallas, Texas - 1.3%
8. Orange Country, California - 1.2%
9. Maricopa, Arizona - 1.2%
10. San Diego, California - 1.2%

While countries measure their success through GDP, individual states and counties do as well. That’s why the recent readings of a paltry 3rd quarter GDP in the U.S. caused some worry.

While consumer spending continues to bolster the economy, people really worry about the longevity. Even politicians understand their futures rely on economic success. That’s why the recent relief in the trade war abated some pressures on growth. It provides much-needed clarity for counties and states that rely on trade.

The interesting part of the data is who drives the GDP in each county. L.A. county certainly creates massive output through film and industry. Yet, manufacturing states like Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania don’t come up too far behind. The Bay Area is home to tech giants that rose in prominence in the last decade. But will they stand the test of time?

Population centers change over time. The midwest rustbelt fell out of favor as steel production shipped overseas. Tariffs hope to bring back the dying industry. But so far, the large cities attract talent with high paying jobs in service industries. The real question is what this map will look like in 5, 10, or even 50 years. Will the population be the key driver given the increases in automation? Let us know your thoughts.

What if you want to start a new business? Where do you put your money to work? If you’re thinking about starting a new business in 2020, this cost guide can introduce you to the loan that can start it.

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How Much
December 26, 2019

Saudi Aramco finally went public with the world’s largest IPO on December 11th. However, from a historical perspective Saudi Aramco would still not be the world’s largest company ever. Our new visualization looks at the most valuable companies of all time, measured by their market capitalization.

  • Eight companies have reached a market capitalization of more than $1 trillion in today’s dollars.
  • Six of the top 20 biggest companies of all time were founded by countries other than the United States.
  • The three largest companies were part of the shipping industry during the early colonial age. The next three largest are related to oil & petroleum. The tech industry rounds out the rest of the top ten largest companies of all time.
  • While most of these companies are still in business in 2019, four of them (Standard Oil, South Sea Co, Mississippi Company, and Dutch East India Company) have already gone bust.

The market capitalization data for this visualization comes from Fool.com and Yahoo Finance, with prices as of 12/20/2019. All prices are expressed in USD. The companies in the visualization are listed in order from lowest market capitalization at the top to highest market capitalization at the bottom, with each company’s corresponding circle growing larger to reflect the size of its market cap. The years on the right indicate the date we referenced for the market capitalization data. 

Top 10 Biggest Companies of All Time

1. Dutch East India Company: $8.28 trillion 
2. Mississippi Company:  $6.8 trillion
3. South Sea Company: $4.5 trillion
4. Saudi Aramco: $1.89 trillion 
5. Apple: $1.3 trillion
6. PetroChina: $1.24 trillion
7. Microsoft: $1.2 trillion
8. Standard Oil: more than $1 trillion
9. Alphabet: $931 million
10. Amazon: $886 million

The Dutch East India Co. holds the distinction of being the first company to offer shares of its business to the public, effectively conducting the world's first initial public offering (IPO). Interestingly, the three shipping companies on this list--the Dutch East India Co., the Mississippi Co. and the South Sea Co.--had market caps more than twice as high as today’s biggest company, Saudi Aramco. These “joint-stock companies” that sought to capitalize on trade with the New World ultimately went bankrupt before 1800. However, the Dutch East India Co. in particular ushered in a new wave of economic growth and social change similar to how industry giants in the tech field are doing today.

Another company on this list that no longer exists is John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company. The Standard Oil Company was dissolved on May 15, 1911 when the Supreme Court ruled that it was a monopoly and therefore violated the Sherman Antitrust Act. As legislators turn their attention to Big Tech and whether or not companies like Google and Amazon are also in violation of antitrust laws, it is interesting to ponder if history will repeat itself or what might turn out differently this time around.

Do you think more of these companies will reach market caps above $1 trillion? How do you think future legislation may impact some of these large tech and financial companies and their market caps? Please let us know in the comments.

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How Much
December 23, 2019

Americans spend a lot of money on car insurance every year. Part of the reason why is that state governments set minimum amounts of coverage drivers must purchase to legally drive a car. Our newest visual breaks down the 3 most important types of auto insurance: property damage, bodily injury per accident and bodily injury per person.

  • 32 states set a $25,000 minimum threshold for bodily injury liability per individual. Alaska and Maine have the highest minimums in the country at $50,000.
  • 31 states set a $50,000 target for bodily injury liability per accident. Delaware has the lowest requirement in the country at just $25,000.
  • Property damage liability minimums vary the widest across the country. 4 states only require $5,000 of coverage (California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Massachusetts).
  • Maine and Alaska require the highest levels of coverage across the board, totaling $50,000, $100,000 and $25,000 for bodily injury per person, per accident and property damage.

State governments require minimum insurance coverage for a few obvious reasons. If you’re going to drive a vehicle, there’s a chance you could injure someone or ruin someone’s property. If a driver doesn’t have insurance (or a lot of money) and causes an accident, then the injured parties can’t recover anything for their losses. Without insurance minimums, there would be a lot more lawsuits to determine responsibility for accidents and to garnish wages. We gathered these state-by-state minimum insurance thresholds from The Balance. Keep in mind how some states also require insurance minimums to cover uninsured and underinsured drivers.

Our visual demonstrates how most states conform to a generally accepted standard of coverage. For example, 32 states require $25,000 of coverage for bodily injury liability per individual, and 31 require $50,000 for bodily injury per accident. What does that mean? Imagine a car accident that injures 2 people, who each have $30,000 of medical bills, or $60,000 total. An insurance policy with these minimum coverage amounts would only pay out $25,000 per victim, or $50,000 total. The driver would be responsible for the remaining $10,000.

There are some exceptions where states require a lot more (or a lot less) coverage than others. 19 states require drivers to carry a minimum of $25,000 for property damage liability, however California, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Massachusetts only require $5,000. Maine and Alaska mandate at least $100,000 of coverage for bodily injury per accident, compared to just $25,000 in Delaware.

There are lots of reasons why you should carry more than the state-required minimums. For starters, the average price of a new car in 2019 was an eye-popping $36,718. If you carry the minimum insurance and wreck someone’s brand new vehicle, you could be financially ruined. Plus, car accidents happen all the time. More than 20,000 people die every year in approximately 5 million accidents. Obtaining full coverage can be expensive. Our cost guide can help you think through all the options.

How much auto coverage do you carry? Do you think there should be higher state-mandated minimum insurance amounts? Let us know in the comments.

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How Much
December 17, 2019

President Trump constantly warns about China as a threat to the world. China takes American jobs, adds to the national trade deficit and steals intellectual property. But how should we understand the rapid rise of China on the global economic stage? Our visualization puts things in perspective.

  • China’s economy has grown significantly faster than every measure on our visual. It’s grown 14.12 times in size since 1989.
  • The Euro area and other high income countries, including the U.S., have grown much slower than China. The U.S. economy is only 2.09 times bigger than it was in 1989.
  • The value of the Dow Jones Industrial Average ebbs and flows with recessions, recently reaching an all-time high before contracting a little to 4.45 times the size it was 30 years ago.
  • No matter the economic climate, U.S. debt levels continue to grow, almost quadrupling in inflation-adjusted dollars over the last 30 years.

We arrived at the numbers behind our visual by pulling from a few different sources. First, we grabbed GDP growth figures from the World Bank and returns from the Dow Jones Industrial Average from macrotrends. We also used the World Bank to determine high and low income countries. We found U.S. debt numbers from The Balance. We adjusted all of these figures to reflect 2019 dollars, allowing us to create a true apples-to-apples comparison across time. This lets us measure growth rates in real terms over the last 30 years.

China’s economy started to grow in 1989 and hasn’t let up, double in size roughly every 8 to 10 years. China’s growth rate surpassed every other measure we found, from the Dow Jones Industrial Average, to rich and poor countries, and even U.S. debt. It’s more than 14 times as big as it was in 1989.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results, as everyone knows. President Trump is famous for his trade war, even if a deal seems like it could happen anytime now. Even if nothing happens and tariffs continue to escalate, multinational companies are still dropping buckets of money to invest in China. It’s an open question how long it will take China to double yet again given these challenges, especially given the recent headlines about slowing down.

Another interesting storyline in our visual is how China’s rise has been steady and one-directional, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average and American debt levels have ebbed and flowed over the decades. The stock market obviously contracts during recessions before recovering, but it’s only 4.45 times as big as it was 30 years ago. U.S. national debt, on the other hand, tends to grow no matter what the economy is doing. In fact, there’s been a U.S. national debt boom over the last few years even with a strong economy.

It’s important to keep in mind how these figures are all relative, and there are lots of other ways to measure and compare wealth between countries. For example, the debt-to-GDP ratio shows how large debt levels aren’t necessarily a bad thing if a country’s economy is likewise enormous. It’s also critical to understand how the U.S. is still the biggest economy, by a lot. China is able to post such impressive growth numbers because it started as an agrarian economy in 1989, and then transformed into a manufacturing powerhouse.

Do you think China’s economic growth has been a positive thing for the world? Share this article on Twitter and let your friends know.

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How Much
December 16, 2019

The holidays are right around the corner, which means consumers are being subjected to endless commercials and ad campaigns pushing for that last-minute gift purchase. Advertising is big money not only in the U.S., but also around the world. Just how much money is spent on advertising? That’s the subject of our new visualization, which breaks down the world’s top companies by ad spend. 

  • Among the top 50 advertisers alone, 38 are headquartered in the U.S. 
  • Forty-one companies spent more than $1 billion on advertising in 2017.
  • Ad spending for the top 200 companies increased by 1.1% from 2016 to 2017, the slowest growth since the Recession.
  • According to AdAge research, Geico, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, is the most advertised brand, with $1.4 billion in measured media ad spending.

The data comes from AdAge’s 200 Leading National Advertisers 2018 Fact Pack. According to the methodology, “Total U.S. Ad Spending” is defined as “advertising, marketing services (including promotion and direct marketing) and digital marketing (including social media).” For the visualization, we took the top 50 companies on the list and charted them in bubbles with the company logo and annual amount of U.S. ad spending. To give an idea of scale, the bigger bubbles correspond to higher ad spend and the smaller bubbles correspond to lower ad spend. The bubbles are also color-coded based on ad spend, with dark purple representing less spending and dark pink representing more spending. We also divided the companies into their associated industry, such as telecommunications, financials, pharmaceuticals, and motor vehicles.

Top 10 Advertisers by 2017 Ad Spend

1. Comcast Corp: $5.7 billion - Telecommunication
2. Procter & Gamble Co.: $4.4 billion - Household products
3. AT&T: $3.5 billion - Telecommunications
4. Amazon: $3.4 billion - Internet Services and Retailing
5. General Motors Co.: $3.2 billion - Motor Vehicles
6. Verizon Communications: $2.6 billion - Telecommunications
7. Ford Motor Co.: $2.5 billion  - Motor Vehicles
8. Charter Communications: $2.4 billion - Telecommunications
9. Alphabet (Google): $2.4 billion - Internet Services and Retailing
10. Samsung Electronics Co.: $2.4 billion - Electronics 

The rise of social media and widespread use of smartphones have changed how advertisers interact with their customer base and attract new business. The AdAge research further reveals that internet advertising and out of home advertising have increased over the past 20 years, while traditional media like TV, radio, magazines, and newspapers have suffered sharp declines. In fact, the internet became the biggest U.S. ad medium by spending as of 2017, surpassing TV. The 200 Leading National Advertisers 2018 Fact Pack estimates that internet ad spending will increase 13.1% year-over-year, reaching $78 billion. As technology and consumer preferences continue to evolve, so will marketers’ and advertisers’ strategies for getting more exposure for their company’s products and services.

Have you ever seen a particularly memorable ad or TV commercial that resonated with you? Please let us know in the comments!

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