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Crimes against charts

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One City watcher I know has a particular grouch with the graphics used in research papers and in newspapers to demonstrate economic activity.

Crimes against charts, he calls them.

He reckons they are even worse than usual lately, since a lot of them are now demonstrating a spectacular looking V shape.

All that shows is that when the economy was shut, economic activity plunged. And now it is opening up, well, the line on the graph is moving back up again.

Today’s PMI’s for June made that point clearly and lame City reporters duly took the bait.

Simon French at Panmure Gordon tweeted his objection:

“Today’s PMIs for June are almost entirely worthless. Not a criticism of the data providers – simply that in such unprecedented circumstances any calibration across to output levels is impossible. The data is good for headlines and pretty charts – little else.”

I think that is right. And I think what hacks could do with from commentators is a better sense of which economic surveys matter and why, and which don’t really.

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