Plotting the economic cycle
A chart of industrial production - the output of manufacturers, miners and utility companies - suggests that the economy is poised to turn around, but that the climb out of the current downturn will be a long one.
At first I thought this graphic was a joke, but the more I dug into it, the more fascinating it became. This interactive chart by Amanda Cox at the New York Times plots the deviation of the industrial production data series from its long term mean. When the deviation is positive and the economy is growing, the economy is said to be in an expansion phase and a corresponding point is plotted in the top right quadrant of the chart. As economic growth slows, the line moves to the left cycling progressively through the slowdown, downturn and recovery phases of the economic cycle before it moves again into the expansion phase.
The blue line is the calculated from the industrial production data series as reported by the U.S. Federal Reserve. The yellow line is derived from the OECD's index of leading economic indicators. Click on the image to go to the original website and follow the interactive progression of the chart. I found it very interestingto watch.
Kudos to the folks at Flowing Data for bringing this to my attention (they are always looking for unique and effective ways to present different types of data.)