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Graphic Economics

A collection of graphic representations of data by CEPR researchers on important economic issues.

Change in Commodity Prices, Dec 2003-Sept 2010 Print
October 15, 2010

The price of imports has a significant impact on the balance of trade. For example, the price of commodity imports from China has risen 0.3 percent since the end of 2003—less than 0.05 percent per year. By contrast, the price of those from industrialized countries rose 22.8 percent and the price index for all commodities has risen 15.2 percent over the same period. Thus, the relative price of commodity imports from China have fallen, while those from industrialized countries have risen.


Since 2003, the trade deficit with China has doubled from about $10 billion to more than $21 billion per month, while that with Canada, Germany, and Japan has shrunk from more than $13 billion to less than $10 billion per month. This provides even more evidence to support the Economics 101 argument that prices matter to buyers, and therefore exchange rate imbalances are significant drivers of trade imbalance.

Read the entire Prices Byte.

The CEPR Recession Waste Clock Print
September 28, 2010

The current downturn had led to the worst period of sustained unemployment since the Great Depression. This suffering is especially tragic because, like the Great Depression, it is entirely the result of misguided economic policy.

Unemployment corresponds to lost production of goods and services. Construction workers could have been providing safe and energy efficient housing to people who lack adequate shelter, but instead they were left sitting idle. Manufacturing workers, who could have been producing more fuel-efficient cars and appliances, are instead getting unemployment checks. Health care workers who could have been ensuring that people received adequate care and teachers who could have been in classrooms, helping educate our children, are instead spending their time looking for work.

This is an incredible loss not only for these workers who must struggle to make ends meet, but also for our economy and society. The CEPR Recession Waste Clock allows people to see the value of the goods and services that we have lost in this downturn. It measures the gap between potential GDP (as calculated by the Congressional Budget Office) and actual GDP.

Given the current unemployment rate of 9.6 percent, the amount of lost GDP as measured by this gap increases at the rate of $2.873 billion per day. This comes to $120 million an hour, $2 million a minute or $33 thousand a second.

You can also see the amount of lost output measured in units of houses, college educations, or personal mp3 players.

The calculation of lost output is based on the gap between potential GDP as estimated by the Congressional Budget Office and actual GDP. The projection going forward assumes the same quarterly output gap as the last quarter for which data are available.

Existing Home Sales, Dec 2004 - Aug 2010 Print
September 28, 2010

The sales rate for existing homes in August bounced back slightly from the low hit in July, but it remains well below the tax-credit-driven pace earlier in the year. Existing homes sold at a 4,130,000 annual rate in August. This was 7.6 percent above the July rate, but was more than 20 percent below the average for the first half of the year. The purchase mortgage applications index remains quite depressed relative to earlier this year. It is running close to 30 percent behind its levels for same months of 2009, suggesting that sales in September and October are unlikely to pick up from their current rates.


Read the entire Housing Market Monitor.

Non-Agricultural Export Price Indices in Dollar and Foreign Currencies Print
September 17, 2010

From 1995-2002, the dollar rose 34 percent relative to other world currencies. This made U.S. imports of foreign goods very inexpensive and exports of goods to other countries relatively costly. Although the export price index fell 5.7 percent over this time, that index is measured in dollars. Rapid appreciation of the dollar meant that consumers in foreign countries paid 27 percent more (in their own currencies) for the goods in early 2002 than they did in mid-1995.

Since early 2002, the trend has reversed. The (dollar) price index for U.S. exports has risen 23 percent, but the real dollar has fallen 22 percent—resulting in a small decline in the price of these exports as seen by our trading partners.


Read the entire Prices Byte.

Official Poverty Rate, 1959-2009 Print
September 16, 2010

According to a recent Census Bureau report, in 2009 some 43.6 million people had incomes below the federal poverty line. The income-poverty rate increased both overall—from 13.2 percent in 2008 to 14.3 percent in 2009—and for all racial and ethnic groups except Asians (for whom the increase was not statistically significant). The number of persons living below the poverty line has now increased for three consecutive years. The largest percentage increases in poverty were experienced by families headed by a single man (3.1 percent) and children under age 6 (2.6 percent).


Read the entire Poverty Byte.

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