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For a few weeks now, the Washington Post has posted a gallery of charts to help explain what is meant by the ‘Fiscal Cliff’ (http://goo.gl/V46U6). Although the 7 charts are a collection of simple bar charts, from a data visualization perspective they leave a lot to be desired. In this slide deck, I've redesigned all 7 charts.

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    Presentation Transcript
    the fiscal cliff explained in charts a critical

    The ‘Fiscal Cliff’ explained in charts

    A critical review of a recent gallery of charts

    from the Washington Post

    Jonathan A. Schwabish

    jschwabi@yahoo.com

    @jschwabish

    the set up

    The Set Up

    For a few weeks now, the Washington

    Post has posted a gallery of charts to help

    explain what is meant by the ‘Fiscal Cliff’:

    http://goo.gl/V46U6

    Although the 7 charts are a collection of

    simple bar charts, from a data

    visualization perspective they leave a lot

    to be desired

    the challenge

    The Challenge

    This slide deck contains my redesign of all 7

    charts.

    I followed 5 basic rules:

    1. Use the actual data

    2. Do not overly modify text or labels

    3. Use a single color scheme and font

    4. Only use Microsoft Excel

    5. Apply good data visualization principles

    use the actual data and do not add extra data

    Use the Actual Data

    (and do not add extra data elements)

    Except for Slide #6—”Sequester cuts to

    the FEMA budget”—all of the data were

    either available on the source websites or

    in the gallery itself (for slide #6, I eyeballed the

    values)

    do not overly modify text or labels unless

    Do not overly modify text or labels

    (unless absolutely necessary)

    Even though some of the labels were

    shorthand or incomplete, the objective of

    the challenge was to improve the

    visualizations, not correct syntax

    use a single color scheme and font

    Use a single color scheme and font

    The gallery is a collection of charts from

    multiple sources (4 appear to have been

    made directly by Post staff) so the color

    schemes vary as do the fonts

    A single design scheme can improve the

    appearance and clarity of the gallery

    (I use the ‘Corbel’ throughout)

    only use microsoft excel

    Only use Microsoft Excel

    Because many people use Excel

    extensively, I wanted to show that

    creating quality data visualization does

    not require complex software or

    knowledge of programming languages

    apply good data visualization principles

    Apply good Data Visualization

    Principles

    My redesigns incorporate simple

    strategies:

    • keep data and labels close together

    • deemphasize tick marks, gridlines,

    axes (i.e., ‘chartjunk’)

    • where possible, include data directly

    on the chart

    final notes

    Final Notes

    Each of the redesigned charts is preceded by a

    copy of the original chart, either from the

    source website or as a screen shot from the

    Washington Post (hence the blurriness in some

    of the images)

    These redesigns are a start. Please feel free to

    add comments to this SlideSharepage or

    contact me directly with thoughts, critiques,

    or suggestions

    a detailed parenthetical

    A Detailed Parenthetical

    I just wanted to insert a detailed note about the first two charts from

    the Tax Policy Center (TPC). In the first chart, I chose to focus on the

    distributional analysis and sacrifice the imagery of the rising average

    federal tax rate as incomes rise (that is, the height of the bars). I didn’t

    get much of the distributional story from the original TPC

    distributional chart because it was just a mess of stacks and colors. The

    second chart—Average Federal Tax Rates by Income Quintile—tells me

    that basic story more clearly anyways. An alternative approach would

    be to use several small charts (‘small multiples’) and stack them

    together in some way, but I chose to stick to the spirit of the challenge

    and only redesign the single chart. Plus, had TPC made a series of

    small charts, it’s not clear to me the Washington Post would have

    picked it up.

    the fiscal cliff explained in charts

    The ‘Fiscal Cliff’

    Explained in Charts

    fiscal cliff components percentage

    Fiscal Cliff Components

    (Percentage)

    AMT Patch

    2001-03 low/middle cuts

    Estate Tax

    Extenders

    Stimulus Credits

    2001-High Income cuts

    2003 -High Income capital

    gains and dividends

    Health reform taxes

    Payroll Tax

    Lowest

    Second

    Middle

    Quintile

    Fourth

    Highest

    80-99%

    Top 1%

    All

    average federal tax rate by cash income

    Average Federal Tax Rate, by Cash Income Percentile, 2013

    (Percent)

    40

    Increase due to tax changes

    7.2

    Baseline

    30

    5.8

    5.1

    5.0

    20

    4.2

    3.8

    31.2

    25.2

    22.8

    4.1

    10

    19.4

    17.4

    14.0

    8.0

    3.7

    0.6

    0

    Lowest

    2nd

    Middle

    4th

    Highest

    80-99%

    Top 1%

    All

    Quintile

    size of components of the fiscal cliff billions

    Size of Components of the "Fiscal Cliff"

    (Billions of dollars)

    Bush Tax Cuts

    221

    Payroll Tax Cut

    95

    Debt Ceiling Deal

    65

    AMT/Other

    65

    Unemployment Benefit Expansion

    26

    ACA Taxes

    18

    "Doc fix" expiration

    11

    0

    50

    100

    150

    200

    250

    marginal tax rate increase under the fiscal cliff

    Marginal Tax Rate Increase Under the Fiscal Cliff, by Income Bracket

    (Percent)

    Thousand

    dollar

    increments

    <10

    64.4

    10-20

    26.5

    20-30

    5.6

    30-40

    2.8

    40-50

    2.2

    50-75

    7.8

    75-100

    16.7

    100-200

    8.5

    200-500

    6.2

    500-1,000

    26.2

    >1,000

    16.4

    0

    10

    20

    30

    40

    50

    60

    70

    economic impact of fiscal cliff zandi multipliers

    Economic Impact of Fiscal Cliff, Zandi Multipliers

    (Billions of dollars)

    500

    435

    Budget Impact

    Economic Impact

    400

    300

    201

    196

    200

    181

    158

    150

    130

    100

    69

    60

    50

    30

    29

    23

    20

    0

    Tax Cuts

    Sequester

    Jobs Measures

    AMT Patch

    Tax Extenders

    ACA Taxes

    Doc Fix

    sequester cuts to the fema budget millions

    Sequester Cuts to the FEMA Budget

    (Millions of dollars)

    600

    580

    400

    200

    175

    75

    25

    25

    0

    Disaster Relief

    State, local programs

    Salaries and expenses

    Emergency food, shelter

    Flood hazard mapping

    effect on fiscal cliff components on deficit

    Effect on Fiscal Cliff Components on Deficit and GDP

    Effect on GDP

    (Percentage)

    Effect on Deficit

    (Billions of dollars)

    24

    Payroll /UI

    0.4

    40

    Bush cuts (high)

    Bush cuts (low/middle)

    42

    0.4

    0.1

    108

    Nondefense

    0.7

    Total Effect:

    $503 billion

    Total Effect:

    2.9%

    Defense

    288

    1.3

    contact me

    Contact me

    www.slideshare.net/jschwabish

    jschwabi@yahoo.com

    @jschwabish