Visualizing the Countries Most Reliant on Tourism


This post is by Dorothy Neufeld from Visual Capitalist

Visualizing the Countries Most Reliant on Tourism

Visualizing the Countries Most Reliant on Tourism

Without a steady influx of tourism revenue, many countries could face severe economic damage.

As the global travel and tourism industry stalls, the spillover effects to global employment are wide-reaching. A total of 330 million jobs are supported by this industry around the world, and it contributes 10%, or $8.9 trillion to global GDP each year.

Today’s infographic uses data from the World Travel & Tourism Council, and it highlights the countries that depend the most on the travel and tourism industry according to employment—quantifying the scale that the industry contributes to the health of the global economy.

Ground Control

Worldwide, 40 countries rely on the travel and tourism industry for more than 15% of their total share of employment. Unsurprisingly, many of the countries suffering the most economic damage are island nations.

At the same time, data reveals the extent to which certain larger nations rely on tourism. In New Zealand, for example, 479,000 jobs are generated by the travel and tourism industry, while in Cambodia tourism contributes to 2.4 million jobs.

Rank Country T&T Share of Jobs (2019) T&T Jobs (2019) Population
1 Antigua & Barbuda 91% 33,800 97,900
2 Aruba 84% 35,000 106,800
3 St. Lucia 78% 62,900 183,600
4 US Virgin Islands 69% 28,800 104,400
5 Macau 66% 253,700 649,300
6 Maldives 60% 155,600 540,500
7 St. Kitts & Nevis 59% 14,100 53,200
8 British Virgin Islands 54% 5,500 30,200
9 Bahamas 52% 103,900 393,200
10 Anguilla 51% 3,800 15,000
11 St. Vincent & the Grenadines 45% 19,900 110,900
12 Seychelles 44% 20,600 98,300
13 Grenada 43% 24,300 112,500
14 Former Netherlands Antilles 41% 25,700 26,200
15 Belize 39% 64,800 397,600
16 Cape Verde 39% 98,300 556,000
17 Dominica 39% 13,600 72,000
18 Vanuatu 36% 29,000 307,100
19 Barbados 33% 44,900 287,400
20 Cayman Islands 33% 12,300 65,700
21 Jamaica 33% 406,100 2,961,000
22 Montenegro 33% 66,900 628,100
23 Georgia 28% 488,200 3,989,000
24 Cambodia 26% 2,371,100 16,719,000
25 Fiji 26% 90,700 896,400
26 Croatia 25% 383,400 4,105,000
27 Sao Tome and Principe 23% 14,500 219,200
28 Bermuda 23% 7,800 62,300
29 Iceland 22% 44,100 341,200
30 Thailand 21% 8,054,600 69,800,000
31 Malta 21% 52,800 441,500
32 New Zealand 20% 479,400 4,822,000
33 Lebanon 19% 434,200 6,825,000
34 Mauritius 19% 104,200 1,272,000
35 Portugal 19% 902,400 10,197,000
36 Gambia 18% 129,600 2,417,000
37 Jordan 18% 254,700 10,200,000
38 Dominican Republic 17% 810,800 10,848,000
39 Uruguay 16% 262,500 3,474,000
40 Namibia 15% 114,600 2,541,000

Croatia, another tourist hotspot, is hoping to reopen in time for peak season—the country generated tourism revenues of $13B in 2019. With a population of over 4 million, travel and tourism contributes to 25% of its workforce.

How the 20 Largest Economies Stack Up

Tourist-centric countries remain the hardest hit from global travel bans, but the world’s biggest economies are also feeling the impact.

In Spain, tourism ranks as the third highest contributor to its economy. If lockdowns remain in place until September, it is projected to lose $68 billion (€62 billion) in revenues.

Rank Country Travel and Tourism, Contribution to GDP
1 Mexico 15.5%
2 Spain 14.3%
3 Italy 13.0%
4 Turkey 11.3%
5 China 11.3%
6 Australia 10.8%
7 Saudi Arabia 9.5%
8 Germany 9.1%
9 United Kingdom 9.0%
10 U.S. 8.6%
11 France 8.5%
12 Brazil 7.7%
13 Switzerland 7.6%
14 Japan 7.0%
15 India 6.8%
16 Canada 6.3%
17 Netherlands 5.7%
18 Indonesia 5.7%
19 Russia 5.0%
20 South Korea 2.8%

On the other hand, South Korea is impacted the least: just 2.8% of its GDP is reliant on tourism.

Travel, Interrupted

Which countries earn the most from the travel and tourism industry in absolute dollar terms?

Topping the list was the U.S., with tourism contributing over $1.8 trillion to its economy, or 8.6% of its GDP in 2019. The U.S. remains a global epicenter for COVID-19 cases, and details remain unconfirmed if the country will reopen to visitors before summer.

Travel and tourism contribution to GDP in absolute terms

Meanwhile, the contribution of travel and tourism to China’s economy has more than doubled over the last decade, approaching $1.6 trillion. To help bolster economic activity, China and South Korea have eased restrictions by establishing a travel corridor.

As countries slowly reopen, other travel bubbles are beginning to make headway. For example, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have eased travel restrictions by creating an established travel zone. Australia and New Zealand have a similar arrangement on the horizon. These travel bubbles allow citizens from each country to travel within a given zone.

Of course, COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on employment and global economic activity with inconceivable outcomes. When the dust finally settles, could global tourism face a reckoning?

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Zoom is Now Worth More Than the World’s 7 Biggest Airlines


This post is by Iman Ghosh from Visual Capitalist

Zoom Is Now Worth More Than The World's 7 Biggest Airlines

Zoom Is Now Worth More Than The 7 Biggest Airlines

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have transitioned to working—and socializing—from home. If these trends become the new normal, certain companies may be in for a big payoff.

Popular video conferencing company, Zoom Communications, is a prime example of an organization benefiting from this transition. However, other industries haven’t been so lucky.

The Zoom Boom, in Perspective

As of May 15, 2020, Zoom’s market capitalization has skyrocketed to $48.8 billion, despite posting revenues of only $623 million over the past year.

What separates Zoom from its competition, and what’s led to the app’s massive surge in mainstream business culture?

zoom-search-interest

Industry analysts say that business users have been drawn to the app because of its easy-to-use interface and user experience, as well as the ability to support up to 100 participants at a time. The app has also blown up among educators for use in online learning, after CEO Eric Yuan took extra steps to ensure K-12 schools could use the platform for free.

Zoom daily users have skyrocketed in past months, going from 10 million in December 2019 to a whopping 300 million as of April 2020.

Zoom vs. Airlines stock chart

The Airline Decline

The airline industry has been on the opposite end of fortune, suffering an unprecedented plummet in demand as international restrictions have shuttered airports:

The world’s top airlines by revenue have fallen in total value by 62% since the end of January:

Airline Market Cap Jan 31, 2020  Market Cap May 15, 2020
Southwest Airlines $28.440B $14.04B
Delta $35.680B $12.30B
United $18.790B $5.867B
International Airlines Group $14.760B $4.111B
Lufthansa $7.460B $3.873B
American $11.490B $3.886B
Air France $4.681B $2.137B
Total Market Cap $121.301B $46.214B

Source: YCharts. All market capitalizations listed as of May 15, 2020.

With countries scrambling to contain the spread of COVID-19, many airlines have cut travel capacity, laid off workers, and chopped executive pay to try and stay afloat.

If and when regular air travel will return remains a major question mark, and even patient investors such as Warren Buffett have pulled out from airline stocks.

Airline % Change in Total Returns (Jan 31-May 15, 2020)
United -72.91%
International Airlines Group -72.16%
American -65.76%
Delta -65.39%
Air France -54.34%
Southwest Airlines -56.35%
Lufthansa -48.08%

Source: YCharts, as of May 15, 2020.

The world has changed for the airlines. The future is much less clear to me about how the business will turn out.

—Warren Buffett

What Does the Future Hold?

Zoom’s recent success is a product of its circumstances, but will it last? That’s a question on the mind of many investors and pundits ahead of the company’s Q1 results to be released in June.

It hasn’t been all smooth-sailing for the company—a spate of “Zoom Bombing” incidents, where uninvited people hijacked meetings, brought the app’s security measures under scrutiny. However, the company remained resilient, swiftly providing support to combat the problem.

Meanwhile, as many parts of the world begin taking measures to restart economic activity, airlines could see a cautious return to the skies—although any such recovery will surely be a “slow, long ascent”.

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The Hunger Pandemic: How COVID-19 Worsens Global Food Insecurity


This post is by Iman Ghosh from Visual Capitalist

The Hunger Pandemic: How COVID-19 Threatens Global Food Insecurity

How COVID-19 Could Worsen Global Food Insecurity

While COVID-19 is dominating headlines, another kind of emergency is threatening the lives of millions of people around the world—food insecurity.

The two are very much intertwined, however. By the end of 2020, authorities estimate that upwards of 265 million people could be on the brink of starvation globally, almost double the current rate of crisis-level food insecurity.

Today’s visualizations use data from the fourth annual Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC 2020) to demonstrate the growing scale of the current situation, as well as its intense concentration in just 55 countries around the globe.

Global Overview

The report looks at the prevalence of acute food insecurity, which has severe impacts on lives, livelihoods, or both. How does the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) classify the different phases of acute food insecurity?

  • Phase 1: Minimal/None
  • Phase 2: Stressed
  • Phase 3: Crisis
  • Phase 4: Emergency
  • Phase 5: Catastrophe/Famine

According to the IPC, urgent action must be taken to mitigate these effects from Phase 3 onwards. Already, 135 million people experience critical food insecurity (Phase 3 or higher). Here’s how that breaks down by country:

Country/ Territory Total Population Analyzed (Millions) Population in Crisis (Phase 3+, Millions) Share of Analyzed Population in Crisis
Afghanistan¹ 30.7 11.3 37%
Angola¹
(24 communes in 3 provinces)
0.9 0.6 62%
Bangladesh
(Cox’s Bazar and host populations)
3.5 1.3 37%
Burkina Faso¹ 21.4 1.2 6%
Burundi 11.5 0.2 2%
Cabo Verde 0.5 0.01 2%
Cameroon¹
(7 regions)
16.1 1.4 8%
Central African Republic¹
(excluding Lobaye)
4.4 1.8 41%
Chad¹ 14.3 0.6 4%
Colombia¹
(Venezuelan migrants)
1.6 0.9 55%
Côte d’Ivoire 19.8 0.06 0%
Democratic Republic of the Congo¹
(109 territories)
59.9 15.6 26%
Ecuador¹
(Venezuelan migrants)
0.4 0.3 76%
El Salvador¹
(Eastern region)
1.4 0.3 22%
Eswatini¹
(rural population)
0.9 0.2 25%
Ethiopia¹
(selected areas in 6 regions)
28.7 8 27%
Gambia 2 0.2 10%
Guatemala¹ 16.6 3.1 18%
Guinea 10.1 0.3 3%
Guinea-Bissau¹ 1.3 0.1 10%
Haiti¹ 10.5 3.7 35%
Honduras¹
(13 departments)
5.1 1 18%
Iraq 39.3 1.8 5%
Kenya¹
(Arid and Semi-Arid Lands)
13.9 3.1 22%
Lebanon¹
(Syrian refugees)
0.9 0.3 29%
Lesotho¹
(rural population)
1.5 0.4 30%
Liberia 4.3 0.04 1%
Libya 6.7 0.3 5%
Madagascar¹
(Southern, south-eastern and eastern areas)
4.6 1.3 28%
Malawi¹ 15.3 3.3 22%
Mali¹ 20.5 0.6 3%
Mauritania¹ 4.1 0.6 15%
Mozambique¹
(39 districts)
5 1.7 34%
Myanmar 54 0.7 1%
Namibia 2.4 0.4 18%
Nicaragua 6 0.08 1%
Niger¹ 21.8 1.4 7%
Nigeria¹
(16 states and Federal Capital Territory)
103.5 5 5%
Pakistan¹
(Balochistan and Sindh drought-affected areas)
6 3.1 51%
Palestine 5 1.7 33%
Rwanda 12.6 0.1 1%
Senegal¹ 13.2 0.4 3%
Sierra Leone¹ 8.1 0.3 4%
Somalia¹ 12.3 2.1 17%
South Sudan² 11.4 7 61%
Sudan¹
(excluding West Darfur)
41.9 5.9 14%
Syrian Arab Republic 18.3 6.6 36%
Turkey¹
(Syrian refugees)
2.7 0.5 17%
Uganda 40 1.5 4%
Ukraine
(Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts, and IDP)
6.1 0.5 9%
United Republic of Tanzania¹
(16 districts)
4.8 1 20%
Venezuela¹ 28.5 9.3 32%
Yemen² 29.9 15.9 53%
Zambia¹
(86 districts)
9.5 2.3 24%
Zimbabwe¹
(Rural population)
9.4 3.6 38%
Total populations 825.1 million 134.99 million

Source: GRFC 2020, Table 5 – Peak numbers of acutely food-insecure people in countries with food crises, 2019
¹ Include populations classified in Emergency (IPC/CH Phase 4)
² Include populations classified in Emergency (IPC/CH Phase 4) and in Catastrophe (IPC/CH Phase 5)

While starvation is a pressing global issue even at the best of times, the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is projected to almost double these numbers by an additional 130 million people—a total of 265 million by the end of 2020.

To put that into perspective, that’s roughly equal to the population of every city and town in the United States combined.

A Continent in Crisis

Food insecurity impacts populations around the world, but Africa faces bigger hurdles than any other continent. The below map provides a deeper dive:

global food crisis 2020 africa

Over half of populations analyzed by the report – 73 million people – are found in Sub-Saharan Africa. Main drivers of acute food insecurity found all over the continent include:

  • Conflict/Insecurity
    Examples: Interstate conflicts, internal violence, regional/global instability, or political crises.
    In many instances, these result in people being displaced as refugees.
  • Weather extremes
    Examples: Droughts and floods
  • Economic shocks
    Macroeconomic examples: Hyperinflation and currency depreciation
    Microeconomic examples: Rising food prices, reduced purchasing power
  • Pests
    Examples: Desert locusts, armyworms
  • Health shocks
    Examples: Disease outbreaks, which can be worsened by poor quality of water, sanitation, or air
  • Displacement
    A major side-effect of conflict, food insecurity, and weather shocks.

One severely impacted country is the Democratic Republic of Congo, where over 15 million people are experiencing acute food insecurity. DRC’s eastern region is experiencing intense armed conflict, and as of March 2020, the country is also at high risk of Ebola re-emergence.

Meanwhile, in Eastern Africa, a new generation of locusts has descended on croplands, wiping out vital food supplies for millions of people. Weather conditions have pushed this growing swarm of trillions of locusts into countries that aren’t normally accustomed to dealing with the pest. Swarms have the potential to grow exponentially in just a few months, so this could continue to cause big problems in the region in 2020.

Insecurity in Middle East and Asia

In the Middle East, 43 million more people are dealing with similar challenges. Yemen is the most food-insecure country in the world, with 15.9 million (53% of its analyzed population) in crisis. It’s also the only area where food insecurity is at a Catastrophe (IPC/CH Phase 5) level, a result of almost three years of civil war.

global food crisis 2020 middle east

Another troubled spot in the Middle East is Afghanistan, where 11.3 million people find themselves in a critical state of acute food insecurity. Over 138,000 refugees returned to the country from Iran and Pakistan between January-March 2020, putting a strain on food resources.

Over half (51%) of the analyzed population of Pakistan also faces acute food insecurity, the highest in all of Asia. These numbers have been worsened by extreme weather conditions such as below-average monsoon rains.

An Incomplete Analysis

As COVID-19 deteriorates economic conditions, it could also result in funding cuts to major humanitarian organizations. Upwards of 300,000 people could die every day if this happens, according to the World Food Program’s executive director.

The GRFC report also warns that these projections are still inadequate, due to major data gaps and ongoing challenges. 16 countries, such as Iran or the Philippines have not been included in the analysis due to insufficient data available.

More work needs to be done to understand the true severity of global food insecurity, but what is clear is that an ongoing pandemic will not do these regions any favors. By the time the dust settles, the food insecurity problem could be compounded significantly.

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Mapped: The State of Press Freedom Around the World


This post is by Nick Routley from Visual Capitalist

View a more detailed version of this map

press freedom ranking 2020

Mapped: The State of Press Freedom Around the World

View a more detailed version of the above map by clicking here

In many Western countries, it’s easy to take press freedom for granted.

Instances of fake news, clickbait, and hyper-partisan reporting are points of consternation in the modern media landscape, and can sometimes overshadow the greater good that unrestricted journalism provides to society.

Of course, the ability to do that important work can vary significantly around the world. Being an investigative journalist in Sweden comes with a very different set of circumstances and considerations than doing the same thing in a country such as Saudi Arabia or Venezuela.

Today’s map highlights the results of the 2020 Global Press Freedom Index, produced by Reporters Without Borders. The report looks at press freedom in 180 countries and territories.

A Profession Not Without Its Risks

Today, nearly 75% of countries are in categories that the report describes as problematic, difficult, and very serious.

While these negative forces often come in the form of censorship and intimidation, journalism can be a risky profession in some of the more restrictive countries. One example is Mexico, where nearly 60 journalists were killed as a direct result of their reporting over the last decade.

journalists killed around the world

There is good news though: the number of journalists killed last year was the lowest since the report began in 2002.

Even better, press freedom scores increased around the world in the 2020 report.

Press Freedom: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

Here are the scores for all 180 countries and territories covered in the report, sorted by 2020 ranking and score:

Rank (2020) Country or Region Score (2020) Prev. Rank (2019) Change in Rank
#1 🇳🇴 Norway 7.84 1 0
#2 🇫🇮 Finland 7.93 2 0
#3 🇩🇰 Denmark 8.13 5 2
#4 🇸🇪 Sweden 9.25 3 -1
#5 🇳🇱 Netherlands 9.96 4 -1
#6 🇯🇲 Jamaica 10.51 8 2
#7 🇨🇷 Costa Rica 10.53 10 3
#8 🇨🇭 Switzerland 10.62 6 -2
#9 🇳🇿 New Zealand 10.69 7 -2
#10 🇵🇹 Portugal 11.83 12 2
#11 Germany 12.16 13 2
#12 Belgium 12.57 9 -3
#13 Ireland 12.60 15 2
#14 Estonia 12.61 11 -3
#15 Iceland 15.12 14 -1
#16 Canada 15.29 18 2
#17 Luxembourg 15.46 17 0
#18 Austria 15.78 16 -2
#19 Uruguay 15.79 19 0
#20 Suriname 17.50 20 0
#21 Samoa 18.25 22 1
#22 Latvia 18.56 24 2
#23 Namibia 19.25 23 0
#24 Liechtenstein 19.52 26 2
#25 Cape Verde 20.15 25 0
#26 Australia 20.21 21 -5
#27 Cyprus 20.45 28 1
#28 Lithuania 21.19 30 2
#29 Spain 22.16 29 0
#30 Ghana 22.26 27 -3
#31 South Africa 22.41 31 0
#32 Slovenia 22.64 34 2
#33 Slovakia 22.67 35 2
#34 France 22.92 32 -2
#35 United Kingdom 22.93 33 -2
#36 Trinidad and Tobago 23.22 39 3
#37 Andorra 23.23 37 0
#38 Burkina Faso 23.47 36 -2
#39 Botswana 23.56 44 5
#40 Czech Republic 23.57 40 0
#41 Italy 23.69 43 2
#42 South Korea 23.70 41 -1
#43 Taiwan 23.76 42 -1
#44 OECS 23.78 50 6
#45 United States 23.85 48 3
#46 Papua New Guinea 23.93 38 -8
#47 Senegal 23.99 49 2
#48 Romania 25.91 47 -1
#49 Guyana 26.63 51 2
#50 Tonga 27.27 45 -5
#51 Chile 27.31 46 -5
#52 Fiji 27.41 52 0
#53 Belize 27.50 53 0
#54 Madagascar 27.68 54 0
#55 Dominican Republic 27.90 55 0
#56 Mauritius 28.00 58 2
#57 Niger 28.25 66 9
#58 Bosnia and Herzegovina 28.51 63 5
#59 Croatia 28.51 64 5
#60 Georgia 28.59 60 0
#61 Armenia 28.60 61 0
#62 Poland 28.65 59 -3
#63 Seychelles 28.66 69 6
#64 Argentina 28.78 57 -7
#65 Greece 28.80 65 0
#66 Japan 28.86 67 1
#67 Bhutan 28.90 80 13
#68 Ivory Coast 28.94 71 3
#69 Malawi 29.32 68 -1
#70 Kosovo 29.33 75 5
#71 Togo 29.33 76 5
#72 Tunisia 29.45 72 0
#73 Mongolia 29.61 70 -3
#74 El Salvador 29.70 81 7
#75 Comoros 29.77 56 -19
#76 Panama 29.78 79 3
#77 Cyprus North 29.79 74 -3
#78 East Timor 29.90 84 6
#79 Maldives 29.93 98 19
#80 Hong Kong 30.01 73 -7
#81 Malta 30.16 77 -4
#82 Kyrgyzstan 30.19 83 1
#83 Haiti 30.20 62 -21
#84 Albania 30.25 82 -2
#85 Sierra Leone 30.28 86 1
#86 Lesotho 30.45 78 -8
#87 Gambia 30.62 92 5
#88 Israel 30.84 88 0
#89 Hungary 30.84 87 -2
#90 Peru 30.94 85 -5
#91 Moldova 31.16 91 0
#92 Macedonia 31.28 95 3
#93 Serbia 31.62 90 -3
#94 Guinea-Bissau 32.06 89 -5
#95 Liberia 32.25 93 -2
#96 Ukraine 32.52 102 6
#97 Mauritania 32.54 94 -3
#98 Ecuador 32.62 97 -1
#99 Ethiopia 32.82 110 11
#100 Paraguay 32.97 99 -1
#101 Malaysia 33.12 123 22
#102 Lebanon 33.19 101 -1
#103 Kenya 33.72 100 -3
#104 Mozambique 33.79 103 -1
#105 Montenegro 33.83 104 -1
#106 Angola 33.92 109 3
#107 Brazil 34.05 105 -2
#108 Mali 34.12 112 4
#109 Kuwait 34.30 108 -1
#110 Guinea 34.34 107 -3
#111 Bulgaria 35.06 111 0
#112 Nepal 35.10 106 -6
#113 Benin 35.11 96 -17
#114 Bolivia 35.37 113 -1
#115 Nigeria 35.63 120 5
#116 Guatemala 35.74 116 0
#117 Nicaragua 35.81 114 -3
#118 Congo 36.56 117 -1
#119 Indonesia 36.82 124 5
#120 Zambia 37.00 119 -1
#121 Gabon 37.20 115 -6
#122 Afghanistan 37.70 121 -1
#123 Chad 39.70 122 -1
#124 Tanzania 40.25 118 -6
#125 Uganda 40.95 125 0
#126 Zimbabwe 40.95 127 1
#127 Sri Lanka 41.94 126 -1
#128 Jordan 42.08 130 2
#129 Qatar 42.51 128 -1
#130 Colombia 42.66 129 -1
#131 United Arab Emirates 42.69 133 2
#132 C.A.R. 42.87 145 13
#133 Morocco 42.88 135 2
#134 Cameroon 43.28 131 -3
#135 Oman 43.42 132 -3
#136 Philippines 43.54 134 -2
#137 Palestine 44.09 137 0
#138 South Sudan 44.49 139 1
#139 Myanmar 44.77 138 -1
#140 Thailand 44.94 136 -4
#141 Swaziland 45.15 147 6
#142 India 45.33 140 -2
#143 Mexico 45.45 144 1
#144 Cambodia 45.46 143 -1
#145 Pakistan 45.52 142 -3
#146 Algeria 45.52 141 -5
#147 Venezuela 45.66 148 1
#148 Honduras 48.20 146 -2
#149 Russian Federation 48.92 149 0
#150 Congo (DRC) 49.09 154 4
#151 Bangladesh 49.37 150 -1
#152 Brunei 49.65 152 0
#153 Belarus 49.75 153 0
#154 Turkey 50.02 157 3
#155 Rwanda 50.34 155 0
#156 Uzbekistan 53.07 160 4
#157 Kazakhstan 54.11 158 1
#158 Singapore 55.23 151 -7
#159 Sudan 55.33 175 16
#160 Burundi 55.33 159 -1
#161 Tajikistan 55.34 161 0
#162 Iraq 55.37 156 -6
#163 Somalia 55.45 164 1
#164 Libya 55.77 162 -2
#165 Equatorial Guinea 56.38 165 0
#166 Egypt 56.82 163 -3
#167 Yemen 58.25 168 1
#168 Azerbaijan 58.48 166 -2
#169 Bahrain 60.13 167 -2
#170 Saudi Arabia 62.14 172 2
#171 Cuba 63.81 169 -2
#172 Laos 64.28 171 -1
#173 Iran 64.81 170 -3
#174 Syria 72.57 174 0
#175 Vietnam 74.71 176 1
#176 Djibouti 76.73 173 -3
#177 China 78.48 177 0
#178 Eritrea 83.50 178 0
#179 Turkmenistan 85.44 180 1
#180 North Korea 85.82 179 -1

Which countries stood out in this year’s edition of the press freedom rankings?

Norway: Nordic Countries have topped the Press Freedom Index since its inception, and Norway (Rank: #1) in particular is an example for the world. Despite a very free media environment, the government recently mandated a commission to conduct a comprehensive review of the conditions for freedom of speech. Members will consider measures to promote the broadest possible participation in the public debate, and means to hamper the spread of fake news and hate speech.

Malaysia: A new government ushered in a less restrictive era in Malaysia in 2018. Journalists and media outlets that had been blacklisted were able to resume working, and anti-fake news laws that were viewed as problematic were repealed. As a result, Malaysia’s index score has improved by 15 points in the past two years. This is in sharp contrast to neighbor, Singapore, which is ranked 158th out of 180 countries.

Ethiopia: When Abiy Ahmed Ali took power in Africa’s second most populous country in 2018, his government restored access to over 200 news websites and blogs that had been previously blocked. As well, many detained journalists and bloggers were released as the chill over the country’s highly restrictive media environment began to thaw. As a result, Ethiopia (#99) jumped up eleven spots in the Press Freedom Index in 2020.

The Middle East: Though the situation in this region has begun to stabilize somewhat, restrictions still remain – even in relatively safe and stable countries. Both Saudi Arabia (#170) and Egypt (#166) have imprisoned a number of journalists in recent years, and the former is still dealing with the reputational fallout from the assassination of Saudi dissident and Washington Post columnist, Jamal Khashoggi.

China: Sitting near the bottom of the list is China (#176). More than 100 journalists and bloggers are currently detained as the country maintains a tight grip over the press – particularly as COVID-19 began to spread. Earlier this year, the Chinese government also expelled over a dozen journalists representing U.S. publications.

2020: A Pivotal Year for the Press

As the world grapples with a deadly pandemic, a global economic shutdown, and a crucial election year, the media could find itself in the spotlight more than in previous years.

How the stories of 2020 are told will influence our collective future – and how regimes choose to treat journalists under this atypical backdrop will tell us a lot about press freedom going forward.

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Ranked: The 10 Most Expensive Cities in the World


This post is by Katie Jones from Visual Capitalist

Mapped: The 10 Most Expensive Cities in the World

The Most Expensive Cities in the World

Where personal wealth is concerned, there are two sides to every story.

The first of which is the amount of money a person earns, and the other is what they choose to spend their money on. The latter is influenced by the cost of living in the city where they reside—an ever-changing metric that is driven by a wide variety of factors, such as currency, population growth, or external market movements.

Today’s graphic visualizes the findings from the 2020 Worldwide Cost of Living report and uses data from 133 cities to rank the most expensive cities in the world.

Note: Report research was conducted towards the end of 2019, before the COVID-19 outbreak.

Asia Dominates the Ranking

Globally, the cost of living has fallen by an average of 4% over the last year, with much of the movement up and down the ranking being driven by currency fluctuations.

The locations with the highest cost of living are largely split between Europe and Asia. For the second time in the report’s 30-year history, three cities are tied as the top spot—Singapore, Hong Kong, and Osaka.

Rank Country City Index Score (New York=100) Rank Movement
#1(t) 🇸🇬 Singapore Singapore 102 0
#1(t) 🇨🇳 China Hong Kong 102 0
#1(t) 🇯🇵 Japan Osaka 102 4
#4 🇺🇸 United States New York 100 3
#5(t) 🇫🇷 France Paris 99 -4
#5(t) 🇨🇭 Switzerland Zurich 99 -1
#7 🇮🇱 Israel Tel Aviv 97 3
#8(t) 🇺🇸 United States Los Angeles 96 2
#8(t) 🇯🇵 Japan Tokyo 96 5
#10 🇨🇭 Switzerland Geneva 95 -5

Source: EIU. New York City is index baseline (score = 100). Ties in index score values are denoted by (t).

Osaka is a newcomer to the top spot, climbing four places over the last year to join cost of living heavyweight champions, Singapore and Hong Kong. As Japan’s third-largest city, Osaka is a major financial hub and a breeding ground for emerging startups, with relatively low real estate costs compared to Singapore and Hong Kong.

Three European cities (Paris, Zurich, and Geneva) sit atop the most expensive city rankings, compared to seven cities only 10 years ago. Similarly, 31 of the 37 European cities have seen a decrease in cost of living overall—largely as a result of the Euro or local currencies losing value relative to the U.S. dollar.

Finally, the top 10 is rounded out with two cities from the United States (New York, Los Angeles) and one from Israel (Tel Aviv).

The Cheapest Cities

While East Asia is home to many of the world’s most expensive cities, South Asia hosts the largest grouping of cities with the lowest cost of living.

Rank Country City Index Score (New York=100) Rank Movement
#133 🇸🇾 Syria Damascus 25 -1
#132 🇺🇿 Uzbekistan Tashkent 30 -1
#131 🇰🇿 Kazakhstan Almaty 34 -1
#129(t) 🇦🇷 Argentina Buenos Aires 35 -4
#129(t) 🇵🇰 Pakistan Karachi 35 -2
#128 🇻🇪 Venezuela Caracas 36 5
#127 🇿🇲 Zambia Lusaka 38 -13
#126 🇮🇳 India Chennai 39 -1
#125 🇮🇳 India Bangalore 40 4
#122(t) 🇮🇳 India New Delhi 42 1

Source: EIU. New York City is index baseline (score = 100). Ties in index score values are denoted by (t).

Three Indian cities dominate the cheapest cities ranking due to a combination of low wages and high levels of income inequality, preventing any price increases.

Meanwhile, political and economic turmoil is a common denominator among the cheapest cities outside of South Asia. For example, the Syrian Civil War resulted in an economic collapse, leading to high inflation and a downward spiral in value for the Syrian pound.

A Spanner in the Works

The COVID-19 pandemic is estimated to cost the global economy up to $2 trillion in 2020, so while governments attempt to boost the economy, many are concerned about higher inflation rates spreading across the world.

With a recession becoming more likely, uncertainty around real estate prices will heighten for every city, regardless of their cost of living ranking.

As we navigate chaotic and uncertain times, the next cost of living survey could look very different to today—the most important question will be how permanent the damaging effects of the pandemic will be.

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The post Ranked: The 10 Most Expensive Cities in the World appeared first on Visual Capitalist.

These Charts Put the Historic U.S. Job Losses in Perspective


This post is by Jeff Desjardins from Visual Capitalist

These Charts Put the Historic U.S. Job Losses in Perspective

When recessions hit, it’s not unusual to see millions of jobs lost.

Such episodes are a regular part of the business cycle and when they occur, most businesses do their best to tough things out. Then, as time progresses, it gradually becomes clear that spending must be curtailed, budget cuts must be made, and workers must unfortunately be sent home.

This economic process normally takes months, or even years, to unwind.

But, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a wrench into the economic status quo, creating a situation that is incomparable to any previous downturn. Instead of a gradual economic transition to slower growth prospects, business operations have suddenly screeched to a halt with no clear window to resume.

Beyond Comparison

The Great Lockdown of the economy has been completely unprecedented, both in terms of the speed of the shutdown and its impact on jobs.

As a result, the statistics being released are completely surreal. Perhaps the best example of this is number for initial jobless claims in the U.S., which tops 22 million over the last four weeks.

Worst U.S. Job Losses on Record (Four Week Period)

Year Description Peak Jobless claims (4-wk total) % of U.S. Population
1975 Stagflation 2.24 million 1.0%
1980 Fed tightening (Volcker) 2.52 million 1.1%
1982 Double-dip recession 2.70 million 1.2%
1991 Early 1990s recession 2.00 million 0.8%
2001 Dotcom Bust 1.96 million 0.7%
2009 Great Recession 2.64 million 0.9%
2020 The Great Lockdown 22.03 million 6.7%

Source: FT

As you can see above, the number is 10x higher than many of the worst four-week job losses on record, so historical comparisons don’t come close.

In other words, if you were using recent recessions as a potential barometer of how bad things could get for jobless claims, the numbers coming from COVID-19 crisis just blew up your model.

The Recession Time Machine

To get further context on the numbers above, it’s worth jumping in a time machine to revisit what happened to job numbers in previous recessions:

  • Stagflation and Oil Shocks (1973-75)
    This recession put an end to the Post WWII global economic expansion, and was characterized by the 1973 oil embargo, the aftermath of the Nixon Shock, and the collapse of the Bretton Woods system of international finance. Unemployment and inflation were both high (stagflation), and the unemployment rate in the U.S. reached 9.0% in May 1975.
  • The Double-Dip Recession (1980, 1981-1982)
    This “W-shaped” recession saw economic contraction first in 1980, only to return again in 1981. This corresponded with the Iranian Revolution, as well as Fed chair Paul Volcker’s aggressive policy to rein in inflation with high interest rates. Unemployment peaked at 10.8% in 1982 — the highest rate seen since the Great Depression.
  • The Great Recession (2009)
    The most recent recession in memory peaked with 10.0% in unemployment in October 2009. It took until 2016 for unemployment to fall back to pre-recession levels.

Finally, it’s worth noting that during the Great Depression (1929-1933), unemployment reached a historic high of 24.9%. To get to a comparable equivalent in modern times, there would need to be 41 million Americans out of work permanently.

Room for Optimism

Although the initial jobless claims are staggering and clearly without modern precedent, there is a case to be made for cautious optimism.

Many of the aforementioned recessions took months or years to culminate, with peak job losses occurring at the tail end of each recession. The current crisis, now being called “The Great Lockdown”, caused many businesses to shut doors suddenly and against their will. It also corresponded with unexpected closures of national borders and the halting of regular trade activity around the world.

When and if normal economic activity resumes, it’ll be interesting to see how much of the damage is temporary.

Editor’s note: While we show the figure for peak unemployment during the Great Depression in both the chart and article, there is no comparable number available for weekly jobless claims. According to Federal Reserve data, it would seem that the weekly data set on initial jobless claims started in the 1960s.

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The Fed’s Balance Sheet: The Other Exponential Curve


This post is by Marcus Lu from Visual Capitalist

Fed Balance Sheet

The Fed’s Balance Sheet: The Other Exponential Curve

As the threat of COVID-19 keeps millions of Americans locked down at home, businesses and financial markets are suffering.

For example, a survey of small-business owners found that 51% did not believe they could survive the pandemic for longer than three months. At the same time, the S&P 500 posted its worst first-quarter on record.

In response to this havoc, the U.S. Federal Reserve (the Fed) is taking unprecedented steps to try and stabilize the economy. This includes a return to quantitative easing (QE), a controversial policy which involves adding more money into the banking system. To help us understand the implications of these actions, today’s chart illustrates the swelling balance sheet of the Fed.

How Does Quantitative Easing Work?

Expansionary monetary policies are used by central banks to foster economic growth by increasing the money supply and lowering interest rates. These mechanisms will, in theory, stimulate business investment as well as consumer spending.

However, in the current low interest-rate environment, the effectiveness of such policies is diminished. When short-term rates are already so close to zero, reducing them further will have little impact. To overcome this dilemma in 2008, central banks began experimenting with the unconventional monetary policy of QE to inject new money into the system by purchasing massive quantities of longer-term assets such as Treasury bonds.

These purchases are intended to increase the money supply while decreasing the supply of the longer-term assets. In theory, this should put upward pressure on these assets’ prices (due to less supply) and decrease their yield (interest rates have an inverse relationship with bond prices).

Navigating Uncharted Waters

QE falls under intense scrutiny due to a lack of empirical evidence so far.

Japan, known for its willingness to try unconventional monetary policies, was the first to try QE. Used to combat deflation in the early 2000s, Japan’s QE program was relatively small in scale, and saw mediocre results.

Fast forward to today, and QE is quickly becoming a cornerstone of the Fed’s policy toolkit. Over a span of just 12 years, QE programs have led to a Fed balance sheet of over $6 trillion, leaving some people with more questions than answers.

This is a big experiment. It’s something that’s never been done before.

Kevin Logan, Chief Economist at HSBC

Critics of QE cite several dangers associated with “printing” trillions of dollars. Increasing the money supply can drive high inflation (though this has yet to be seen), while exceedingly low interest rates can encourage abnormal levels of consumer and business debt.

On the other hand, proponents will maintain that QE1 was successful in mitigating the fallout of the 2008 financial crisis. Some studies have also concluded that QE programs have reduced the 10-year yield in the U.S. by roughly 1.2 percentage points, thus serving their intended purpose.

Central banks … have little doubt that QE does operate in many ways like conventional monetary policy.

Joseph E. Gagnon, Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics

Regardless of which side one takes, it’s clear there’s much more to learn about QE, especially in times of economic stress.

The Other Exponential Curve

When conducting QE, the securities the Fed buys make their way onto its balance sheet. Below we’ll look at how the Fed’s balance sheet has grown cumulatively with each iteration of QE:

  • QE1: $2.3 Trillion in Assets
    The Fed’s first QE program ran from January 2009 to August 2010. The cornerstone of this program was the purchase of $1.25 trillion in mortgage-backed securities (MBS).
  • QE2: $2.9 Trillion in Assets
    The second QE program ran from November 2010 to June 2011, and included purchases of $600B in longer-term Treasury securities.
  • Operation Twist (Maturity Extension Program)
    To further decrease long-term rates, the Fed used the proceeds from its maturing short-term Treasury bills to purchase longer-term assets. These purchases, known as Operation Twist, did not expand the Fed’s balance sheet, and were concluded in December 2012.
  • QE3: $4.5 Trillion in Assets
    Beginning in September 2012, the Fed began purchasing MBS at a rate of $40B/month. In January 2013, this was supplemented with the purchase of long-term Treasury securities at a rate of $45B/month. Both programs were concluded in October 2014.
  • Balance Sheet Normalization Program: $3.7 Trillion in Assets
    The Fed began to wind-down its balance sheet in October 2017. Starting at an initial rate of $10B/month, the program called for a $10B/month increase every quarter, until a final reduction rate of $50B/month was reached.
  • QE4: $6 Trillion and Counting
    In October 2019, the Fed began purchasing Treasury bills at a rate of $60B/month to ease liquidity issues in overnight lending markets. While not officially a QE program, these purchases still affect the Fed’s balance sheet.

After the COVID-19 pandemic hit U.S. shores, however, the Fed pulled out all the stops. It cut its target interest rate to zero for the first time ever, injected $1.5 trillion into the economy (with more stimulus to come), and reduced the overnight reserve requirement to zero.

Despite receiving little attention in the media, this third measure may be the most significant. For protection against bank runs, U.S. banks have historically been required to hold 10% of their liabilities in cash reserves. Under QE4, this requirement no longer stands.

No End in Sight

Now that the Fed is undertaking its most aggressive QE program yet, it’s a tough guess as to when equilibrium will return, if ever.

After nearly two years of draw-downs, Fed assets fell by just $0.7 trillion—in a matter of weeks, however, this progress was completely retraced.

QE4 is showing that what goes up, may not necessarily come down.

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The post The Fed’s Balance Sheet: The Other Exponential Curve appeared first on Visual Capitalist.

At Risk: The Geography of America’s Senior Population


This post is by Jenna Ross from Visual Capitalist

U.S. Senior Population by State, Covid-19

At Risk: The U.S. Senior Population

The U.S. now has the largest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases globally, and modelling predicts that the country could see about 100,000 to 200,000 total deaths. Unfortunately, adults aged 65 or older—about 16% of the U.S. population—are at much higher risk of both severe illness and death.

Today’s chart uses U.S. Census Bureau data to map the percentage of the population that is 65 years or older by state. It also outlines the urban areas that are most heavily skewed towards this older age group.

Proportion of Seniors by State

Below is the full breakdown of the U.S. senior population by state, using the latest available data from 2018.

Maine tops the list with 20.6% of its population comprising adults age 65 or older. At the other end of the scale, Utah’s seniors make up only 11.1% of its population.

Rank State 65+, % of Population 65+, Total Population
1 Maine 20.6% 276,069
2 Florida 20.5% 4,358,784
3 West Virginia 20.0% 361,216
4 Vermont 19.8% 123,875
5 Montana 18.8% 200,239
6 Delaware 18.7% 180,756
7 Hawaii 18.4% 261,467
8 Pensylvannia 18.2% 2,332,369
9 New Hampshire 18.1% 245,156
10 South Carolina 17.7% 899,754
11 Oregon 17.6% 739,611
12 Arizona 17.6% 1,259,103
13 New Mexico 17.6% 368,480
14 Rhode Island 17.3% 182,645
15 Conneticut 17.2% 613,147
16 Michigan 17.2% 1,720,453
17 Ohio 17.1% 1,996,163
18 Iowa 17.0% 537,818
19 Wisconsin 17.0% 986,483
20 Alabama 17.0% 829,663
21 Missouri 16.9% 1,035,074
22 Arkansas 16.8% 507,676
23 Wyoming 16.7% 96,557
24 South Dakota 16.6% 146,358
25 Massachusetts 16.5% 1,137,541
26 Kentucky 16.4% 731,392
27 New York 16.4% 3,212,065
28 Tennesse 16.3% 1,104,797
29 North Carolina 16.3% 1,688,574
30 New Jersey 16.1% 1,438,289
31 Idaho 15.9% 279,441
32 Kansas 15.9% 462,191
34 Mississipi 15.9% 474,423
33 Minnesota 15.8% 888,634
36 Nebraska 15.8% 303,998
35 Indiana 15.7% 1,051,146
37 Nevada 15.7% 475,120
38 Oklahoma 15.7% 619,601
39 Illinois 15.6% 1,990,548
40 Louisiana 15.5% 720,610
42 Virginia 15.5% 1,318,225
41 Maryland 15.4% 931,041
43 Washington 15.4% 1,163,987
44 North Dakota 15.3% 116,433
45 California 14.3% 5,667,337
46 Colorado 14.2% 807,855
47 Georgia 13.8% 1,456,428
48 Texas 12.5% 3,599,599
49 Alaska 11.9% 88,000
50 Utah 11.1% 351,297

Notably, Florida has the second highest percentage and number of seniors nationwide. Its governor just announced the state’s stay-at-home order on April 1st, after taking criticism for refusing to do so earlier.

New York, the current global hot spot of COVID-19, is close to the national average with 16.4% of its population aged 65 or older. However, with over 3.2 million seniors, the sheer volume of individuals needing hospitalization has already put a strain on the state’s healthcare system. Governor Andrew Cuomo says the state will run out of its current supply of ventilators in less than a week.

The Most Vulnerable Urban Areas

On a local level, which places have the highest proportion of seniors? Based on all urban areas* with a population of 250,000 or more, here’s how the top 50 looks:

Rank Urban Area 65+, % of Population 65+, Total Population
1 Bonita Springs, FL 38.2% 135,286
2 Sarasota–Bradenton, FL 33.2% 242,613
3 Barnstable Town, MA 29.4% 74,614
4 Palm Coast–Daytona Beach–Port Orange, FL 28.3% 110,355
5 Myrtle Beach–Socastee, SC–NC 27.3% 74,783
6 Cape Coral, FL 27.0% 175,483
7 Indio–Cathedral City, CA 26.0% 95,054
8 Port St. Lucie, FL 25.6% 110,883
9 Palm Bay–Melbourne, FL 22.9% 114,347
10 Youngstown, OH–PA 21.0% 78,739
11 Asheville, NC 20.9% 65,540
12 Pittsburgh, PA 19.6% 335,546
13 Canton, OH 19.6% 54,214
14 Scranton, PA 19.1% 71,876
15 Mission Viejo–Lake Forest–San Clemente, CA 19.0% 115,891
16 Tampa–St. Petersburg, FL 18.9% 516,269
17 Tucson, AZ 18.8% 165,399
18 Lancaster, PA 18.5% 77,538
19 Cleveland, OH 18.4% 324,707
20 Miami, FL 18.3% 1,117,926
21 Buffalo, NY 18.1% 168,121
22 Dayton, OH 18.0% 130,722
23 Harrisburg, PA 18.0% 83,201
24 Wilmington, NC 17.8% 45,457
25 Urban Honolulu, HI 17.7% 148,045
26 Akron, OH 17.6% 99,010
27 New Haven, CT 17.6% 97,888
28 Rochester, NY 17.5% 125,516
29 Peoria, IL 17.5% 44,722
30 Allentown, PA–NJ 17.4% 119,508
31 Concord, CA 17.4% 115,460
32 Chattanooga, TN–GA 17.4% 69,098
33 Flint, MI 17.2% 59,525
34 Santa Rosa, CA 17.1% 55,094
35 Lakeland, FL 17.1% 51,107
36 Davenport, IA–IL 17.1% 48,387
37 Providence, RI–MA 17.0% 204,148
38 Rockford, IL 16.9% 48,370
39 Springfield, MA–CT 16.8% 105,694
40 Knoxville, TN 16.8% 101,332
41 Albany–Schenectady, NY 16.8% 100,756
42 Albuquerque, NM 16.7% 126,081
43 Hartford, CT 16.6% 153,367
44 Toledo, OH–MI 16.6% 82,480
45 Pensacola, FL–AL 16.6% 62,216
46 Bridgeport–Stamford, CT–NY 16.5% 156,035
47 Syracuse, NY 16.4% 66,818
48 Detroit, MI 16.2% 608,427
49 St. Louis, MO–IL 16.2% 347,537
50 Trenton, NJ 16.2% 47,803

*Urban areas consist of a downtown core and adjacent territories

With 6 areas in the top 10, Florida is quite vulnerable at the local level as well. Other states with multiple areas on the list include Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.

The Senior Population of Current U.S. Hotspots

To determine the vulnerability of current COVID-19 hotspots, we compared U.S. counties with a high number of cases per capita against their percentage of seniors.

Counties at the bottom left have low readings on both metrics. Conversely, counties in the top right have a dangerous combination: a high concentration of cases and vulnerable seniors.

senior population vs covid-19 outbreak

Multiple counties in New York occupy the top right quadrant, with Yonkers being the worst off. Los Angeles county, which has a similar population to all counties in New York City, has fewer cases and a smaller proportion of seniors.

To date, outbreaks have been mostly focused in urban areas where populations tend to be younger. However, as COVID-19 begins infiltrating rural areas, healthcare systems will need to contend with both older age groups and fewer resources.

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Global Shutdown: Visualizing Commuter Activity in the World’s Cities


This post is by Iman Ghosh from Visual Capitalist

Global Shutdown: Visualizing Commuter Activity in the World's Cities

Staying Put: The COVID-19 Commuter Decline

Every day, millions of people worldwide rely on public transport networks to get around. But in times of crisis, bustling cities with high volumes of commuter traffic can come to a dramatic halt.

Today’s chart breaks down daily data from Citymapper’s Mobility Index, according to trips planned on the transport app across 41 select cities.

The results paint a unique picture of how social distancing and lockdown measures are impacting commuter and economic activity in major urban hubs.

Cities With the Biggest Drops in Activity

As the government response to the COVID-19 pandemic intensifies and people are urged to stay home, transit activity is dropping everywhere.

However, some areas are seeing more of a reduction in activity than others. Where has activity declined the most over the month?

Rank City Country 04-Mar 11-Mar 18-Mar 25-Mar Total Change (%)
#1 Vienna 🇦🇹 Austria 128% 92% 9% 6% -122%
#2 Lisbon 🇵🇹 Portugal 128% 108% 24% 12% -116%
#3 Istanbul 🇹🇷 Turkey 117% 103% 20% 10% -107%
#4 Barcelona 🇪🇸 Spain 105% 86% 6% 4% -101%
#5 Brussels 🇧🇪 Belgium 107% 96% 15% 7% -100%
#6 São Paolo 🇧🇷 Brazil 112% 113% 33% 12% -100%
#7 New York City 🇺🇸 USA 104% 85% 17% 7% -97%
#8 Madrid 🇪🇸 Spain 100% 65% 5% 4% -96%
#9 Los Angeles 🇺🇸 USA 108% 81% 23% 13% -95%
#10 Melbourne 🇦🇺 Australia 113% 110% 53% 20% -93%

*Note: Data measures the % of city moving compared to 100% baseline.

Overall, Vienna and Lisbon are the cities with the biggest average drop in commuter activity over the past few weeks. This decline in mobility is correlated with a spike in the proportion of COVID-19 cases in the population:

  • Austria
    March 4: 2.6 per million
    March 25: 586 per million
  • Portugal
    March 4: 0.4 per million
    March 25: 232 per million

That said, not every city is seeing a precipitous decline in activity — let’s look at those next.

Standing Still, or On Guard

Cities that saw lower decreases in commuter activity over recent weeks can generally be slotted into three categories:

  1. Cities that were already on or near shutdown (Seoul, Milan)
  2. Cities that have so far avoided major impacts from the virus (St. Petersburg)
  3. Cities that successfully mitigated spread (Singapore)

Here are the 10 cities on the list that saw the lowest changes in activity:

Rank City Country 04-Mar 11-Mar 18-Mar 25-Mar Total Change (%)
#1 Seoul 🇰🇷 South Korea 48% 43% 41% 37% -11%
#2 Hong Kong 🇭🇰 China (SAR) 50% 52% 48% 37% -13%
#3 Singapore 🇸🇬 Singapore 90% 88% 79% 62% -28%
#4 Milan 🇮🇹 Italy 43% 10% 5% 3% -40%
#5 Tokyo 🇯🇵 Japan 63% 54% 42% 21% -42%
#6 St Petersburg 🇷🇺 Russia 114% 114% 85% 69% -45%
#7 Moscow 🇷🇺 Russia 112% 113% 75% 54% -58%
#8 Rhine-Ruhr 🇩🇪 Germany 75% 72% 28% 15% -60%
#9 Stockholm 🇸🇪 Sweden 97% 83% 34% 32% -65%
#10 Lyon 🇫🇷 France 75% 97% 6% 4% -71%

*Note: Data measures the % of city moving compared to 100% baseline.

St. Petersburg is still seeing commuter activity at 69% of normal levels as of March 25th, as the proportion of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Russia remains low, at roughly 3.4 per million.

Milan has the lowest activity of any city at 3%, and has been in shutdown for most of the month.

Although Singapore’s total COVID-19 cases grew from 18.8 to 95.4 per million, it still has 62% commuter activity. Interestingly, Singapore is one of the few countries that has been able to properly control and manage its COVID-19 outbreak.

Biggest Weekly Declines

As the month progressed, various cities showed stark one-week declines in commuter activity based on official healthcare recommendations and growing case numbers.

After a government lockdown announced on March 9, Rome experienced the sharpest decline of -75% commuter activity in the week from March 4 to March 11. Currently, there is only 5% activity compared to usual, similar to Milan.

In the second week of March, COVID-19 cases in France jumped fourfold, from 27.3 per million to 118.4 per million people. As a result, Lyon saw a whopping -91% drop in commuter activity—going from 97% on March 11 to 6% on March 18.

Over the past week, as cases in Australia reached 95 per million, Sydney and Melbourne exhibited the highest average declines at -36% and -33% in commuter activity respectively.

Full List of 41 Cities

Here’s the full list of cities, courtesy of Citymapper.

City, Country March 4 March 11 March 18 March 25 Total Change (%)
Vienna, Austria 128% 92% 9% 6% -122%
Lisbon, Portugal 128% 108% 24% 12% -116%
Istanbul, Turkey 117% 103% 20% 10% -107%
Barcelona, Spain 105% 86% 6% 4% -101%
Brussels, Belgium 107% 96% 15% 7% -100%
São Paulo, Brazil 112% 113% 33% 12% -100%
New York City, U.S. 104% 85% 17% 7% -97%
Madrid, Spain 100% 65% 5% 4% -96%
Los Angeles, U.S. 108% 81% 23% 13% -95%
Melbourne, Australia 113% 110% 53% 20% -93%
Amsterdam, Netherlands 98% 86% 13% 6% -92%
Washington DC, U.S. 97% 82% 15% 6% -91%
San Francisco, U.S. 96% 65% 9% 6% -90%
Boston, U.S. 97% 77% 16% 7% -90%
Chicago, U.S. 97% 92% 16% 7% -90%
Montréal, Canada 103% 104% 31% 14% -89%
Paris, France 95% 89% 8% 6% -89%
London, UK 100% 91% 36% 12% -88%
Manchester, UK 100% 91% 42% 13% -87%
Sydney, Australia 106% 99% 56% 20% -86%
Mexico City, Mexico 109% 110% 53% 23% -86%
Rome, Italy 91% 16% 6% 5% -86%
Copenhagen, Denmark 97% 80% 11% 11% -86%
Berlin, Germany 93% 86% 26% 12% -81%
Birmingham, UK 99% 91% 45% 18% -81%
Toronto, Canada 97% 91% 32% 19% -78%
Vancouver, Canada 94% 89% 38% 16% -78%
Philadelphia, U.S. 89% 85% 22% 13% -76%
Monaco, Monaco 81% 50% 12% 7% -74%
Hamburg, Germany 85% 72% 20% 12% -73%
Seattle, U.S. 80% 51% 19% 8% -72%
Lyon, France 75% 97% 6% 4% -71%
Stockholm, Sweden 97% 83% 34% 32% -65%
Rhine-Ruhr, Germany 75% 72% 28% 15% -60%
Moscow, Russia 112% 113% 75% 54% -58%
St Petersburg, Russia 114% 114% 85% 69% -45%
Tokyo, Japan 63% 54% 42% 21% -42%
Milan, Italy 43% 10% 5% 3% -40%
Singapore, Singapore 90% 88% 79% 62% -28%
Hong Kong, Hong Kong 50% 52% 48% 37% -13%
Seoul, South Korea 48% 43% 41% 37% -11%

*Note: Data measures the % of city moving compared to 100% baseline.

The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting everything from the stock market to the environment. With cities actively working to keep populations in isolation and healthy during this time, it may take a while before commuter activity returns to normal.

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The post Global Shutdown: Visualizing Commuter Activity in the World’s Cities appeared first on Visual Capitalist.

Ranked: Global Pandemic Preparedness by Country


This post is by Nicholas LePan from Visual Capitalist

Ranked: Global Pandemic Preparedness by Country

Ranked: Global Pandemic Preparedness by Country

The world has experienced many pandemics throughout its history, but not every era has had the benefit of modern medicine and hindsight.

However, even with the readily available medical expertise and equipment that exists today, it is still unevenly distributed throughout the globe. Combine this with a highly interconnected global economy, and large populations are still at risk from infection.

Today’s chart pulls data from the 2019 Global Health Security Index, which ranks 195 countries on health security. It reveals that while there were top performers, healthcare systems around the world on average are fundamentally weak—and not prepared for new disease outbreaks.

Pathways for Commerce and Disease

Modern transportation and trade have linked the farthest stretches of the world to fuel a global economy. Physical distance plays less a limiting role and more an enabling one to form a flat world as Thomas Friedman put it, creating opportunities for commerce anywhere in the world.

A person can sell dishware from his home in Cusco, Peru, online to a customer in Muncie, Indiana, with products manufactured in China, from materials sourced in Africa.

While these connections sound sterile, there are people interacting with one another to procure, manufacture, package, and distribute the goods. The connections are not just through products, but also people and animals across many borders.

Now, add up the interactions within the global food supply chain with plants and livestock and tourism industries and place them under the pressures of climate change, urbanization, international mass displacement, and migration—and the volume and variety of opportunities for disease transmission and mutation becomes infinite.

The same pathways of global commerce become the transmission vectors for disease. A cough in Dubai can become a fever in London with one flight and one day.

You Cannot Manage What You Do Not Measure

Despite this, we still live with national healthcare systems that look inward towards national populations, with less of a focus on integrating what is happening with the outside world.

The Global Health Security (GHS) Index is the first comprehensive effort to assess and benchmark health security and related capabilities by nation, and it tracks six key factors to come up with an overall score for each of the 195 countries in the ranking:

  1. Prevention
    Prevention of the emergence or release of pathogens
  2. Detection and Reporting
    Early detection and reporting for epidemics of potential international concern
  3. Rapid Response
    Capability of rapidly responding to and mitigating the spread of an epidemic
  4. Health System
    Sufficient and robust and health system to treat the sick and protect health workers
  5. Compliance with Global Norms
    Compliance with international norms by improving national capacity, financing plans to address gaps
  6. Risk Environment
    Risk environment and country vulnerability to biological threats

Note: The GHS Index is a project of the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security (JHU), and was developed with The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

Country Overall Rankings

Overall, the rankings uncover a distressing insight. Global preparedness for both epidemics and pandemics is weak, with the average score in the index sitting at 40.2 out of 100.

The countries with the highest scores have effective governance and politics systems in place, while those with the lowest scores fall down for their inadequate healthcare systems—even among high-income countries.

Here are the 50 highest-ranking countries in the index:

Rank Country GHS Index Score
#1 🇺🇸 United States 83.5
#2 🇬🇧 United Kingdom 77.9
#3 🇳🇱 Netherlands 75.6
#4 🇦🇺 Australia 75.5
#5 🇨🇦 Canada 75.3
#6 🇹🇭 Thailand 73.2
#7 🇸🇪 Sweden 72.1
#8 🇩🇰 Denmark 70.4
#9 🇰🇷 South Korea 70.2
#10 🇫🇮 Finland 68.7
#11 France 68.2
#12 Slovenia 67.2
#13 Switzerland 67
#14 Germany 66
#15 Spain 65.9
#16 Norway 64.6
#17 Latvia 62.9
#18 Malaysia 62.2
#19 Belgium 61
#20 Portugal 60.3
#21 Japan 59.8
#22 Brazil 59.7
#23 Ireland 59
#24 Singapore 58.7
#25 Argentina 58.6
#26 Austria 58.5
#27 Chile 58.3
#28 Mexico 57.6
#29 Estonia 57
#30 Indonesia 56.6
#31 Italy 56.2
#32 Poland 55.4
#33 Lithuania 55
#34 South Africa 54.8
#35 Hungary 54
#35 New Zealand 54
#37 Greece 53.8
#38 Croatia 53.3
#39 Albania 52.9
#40 Turkey 52.4
#41 Serbia 52.3
#42 Czech Republic 52
#42 Georgia 52
#44 Armenia 50.2
#45 Ecuador 50.1
#46 Mongolia 49.5
#47 Kyrgyz Republic 49.3
#47 Saudi Arabia 49.3
#49 Peru 49.2
#50 Vietnam 49.1

You can view the complete rankings of all 195 countries on the GHS Index website.

Interestingly, 81% of countries score in the bottom tier for indicators related to biosecurity—and worse, 85% of countries show no evidence of having completed a biological threat-focused simulation exercise in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO) in the past year.

Confirmed COVID-19 Cases vs. Global Health Security Score

Many healthcare systems have had their security tested with the outbreak of COVID-19.

covid-19 cases vs. Global Health Security Index

Although it is still extremely early, there appears to be a relationship between a nation’s health security and its ability to cope with pandemics.

Takeaways: A World Unprepared

While there may be top performers relative to other countries, the overall picture paints a grim picture that foreshadowed the current crisis we are living through.

“It is likely that the world will continue to face outbreaks that most countries are ill positioned to combat. In addition to climate change and urbanization, international mass displacement and migration—now happening in nearly every corner of the world—create ideal conditions for the emergence and spread of pathogens.” – The Global Health Security Index, 2019

The report outlined eight critical insights about global health security in 2019 that reveal some of the problems countries are now facing.

  1. National health security is fundamentally weak globally. No country is fully prepared for epidemics or pandemics, and every country has important gaps to address.
  2. Countries are not prepared for a globally catastrophic biological event.
  3. There is little evidence that most countries have tested important health security capacities or shown that they would be functional in a crisis.
  4. Most countries have not allocated funding from national budgets to fill identified preparedness gaps.
  5. More than half of countries face major political and security risks that could undermine national capability to combat biological threats.
  6. Most countries lack basic health systems capacities critical for epidemic and pandemic response.
  7. Coordination and training are inadequate among veterinary, wildlife, and public health professionals and policymakers.
  8. Improving country compliance with international health and security norms is essential.

A Stark Reality

The intention of the Global Health Security Index is to encourage improvements in the planning and response to one of the world’s most omnipresent risks–infectious disease outbreaks. When this report was released in 2019, it revealed that even the highest ranking nations still had gaps to fill in preparing for a pandemic.

Of course, hindsight is 20/20. The COVID-19 outbreak has served as a wake-up call to health organizations and governments around the world. Once all of the curves have been flattened, the next version of this report will undoubtedly be viewed with renewed interest.

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The post Ranked: Global Pandemic Preparedness by Country appeared first on Visual Capitalist.

The Pandemic Economy: Which Stocks are Weathering the Storm?


This post is by Jeff Desjardins from Visual Capitalist

The Pandemic Economy infographic

The Pandemic Economy: The Stocks Weathering the Storm

When markets get wacky, even the best companies can’t avoid the maelstrom.

Investors were already tiptoeing on broken glass, knowing that the longest U.S. stock market bull run in history was getting long in the tooth.

Then, when the market foresaw the potential damage that could be caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it quickly created a vortex that would suck almost everything into it.

Bizarro Market

In the last week, markets flipped into an alternate universe. Every major stock got crushed, while suddenly those holding onto stockpiles of toilet paper and soup reigned supreme.

In such unique circumstances, we wondered which companies were weathering the storm of volatility. To do this, we used Finviz to pull up a visualization of S&P 500 performance, then investigating the segments of the market that were doing well in spite of the recent plunge.

Stock selection Performance (Mar 5-12) Components
S&P 500 -18.0% 📉 The 500 largest U.S. companies by market cap
The Pandemic Economy +12.7% 📈 Soup, bleach, pizza, and telecommuting stocks

A few companies not only avoided the chaos — they actually thrived over the last week.

Let’s look at why!

Not Getting Bugged Down

With global travel, events, and social gatherings screeching to a halt, it’s obvious that this is not a winning situation for any typical economy.

However, it’s hard for everyone to simultaneously be a loser, and it’s always inevitable that some stocks will benefit from any crisis — Continue reading The Pandemic Economy: Which Stocks are Weathering the Storm?

Mapped: Where Are the World’s Most Sustainable Companies?


This post is by Iman Ghosh from Visual Capitalist

The Most Sustainable Companies

Where Are the World’s Most Sustainable Companies?

Everywhere you look, sustainability is permeating social, political, and business agendas.

In recent years, an impressive number of companies have stepped up to take a more active role in shaping a more sustainable future—not just in the environmental sense, but also by taking social and governance factors into consideration.

Today’s chart draws from the Corporate Knights Global 100, an annual ranking of the 100 most sustainable companies, to visualize exactly how many are located in each corner of the world. The companies on the list are clear winners not only because they aim to leave the world a better place, but because their stocks have also outperformed the market on average.

How is Corporate Sustainability Measured?

The researchers rely on readily available data for all publicly-listed companies with at least $1 billion in gross revenue (in PPP), as of the financial year 2018.

Companies are then screened for several key performance indicators (KPIs), including but not limited to the following categories and examples:

  • Resource management
    Example: GHGs and other emissions such as NOx and SOx emissions
  • Financial management
    Example: Innovation capacity, or the percentage of R&D spending against total revenue
  • Employee management
    Example: Women in executive management and/or on boards
  • Clean revenue
    Example: The percentage of total revenue derived from “clean” products and services

The concentration of the most sustainable companies also varies greatly depending on where you look. Here’s a closer view of every region.

Europe: 49/100 Sustainable Companies

Europe is Continue reading Mapped: Where Are the World’s Most Sustainable Companies?

Ranked: The Most Innovative Economies in the World


This post is by Iman Ghosh from Visual Capitalist

The Most Innovative Economies in 2020

Ranked: The Most Innovative Economies in the World

Innovation was again a front-of-mind theme in Davos at the World Economic Forum’s annual assembly of political and business leaders in 2020.

The global conversation centered around the ability of countries to innovate in the face of changing times. An economy’s response to megatrends, such as tech breakthroughs and the risks of climate change, can dictate its long-term success.

Today’s chart identifies the world’s top 20 most innovative economies, based on the annual index created by Bloomberg. We also delve into how the top 10 spots have evolved over time.

How Are Innovative Economies Measured?

Each year, the index assesses over 200 economies across seven weighted metrics.

  1. R&D Intensity
    Annual research and development spending, as a % of an economy’s gross domestic product (GDP).
  2. Patent Activity
    The number of annual patent and grant filings, and the 3-year average growth of filings abroad and filings growth, as a share of the world’s total patent growth.
  3. Tertiary Efficiency
    The total enrollment in higher education, the share of labor force with advanced education levels, and the share of STEM graduates and in the labor force.
  4. Manufacturing Value-added
    Manufacturing output levels—contributing to exports—as a % of GDP, and per capita.
  5. Productivity
    GDP and gross national income (GNI) in the working age population, and the 3-year improvement.
  6. High-tech Density
    The volume of domestic, high-tech public companies as a share of the world’s total companies. Examples of high-tech companies include: aerospace and defense, biotech, internet services, and renewable Continue reading Ranked: The Most Innovative Economies in the World

Visualizing the Biggest Risks to the Global Economy in 2020


This post is curated by Keith Teare. It was written by Marcus Lu. The original is [linked here]

Visualizing the Biggest Risks to the Global Economy in 2020

Top Risks in 2020: Dominated by Environmental Factors

Environmental concerns are a frequent talking point drawn upon by politicians and scientists alike, and for good reason. Irrespective of economic or social status, climate change has the potential to affect us all.

While public urgency surrounding climate action has been growing, it can be difficult to comprehend the potential extent of economic disruption that environmental risks pose.

Front and Center

Today’s chart uses data from the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Risks Report, which surveyed 800 leaders from business, government, and non-profits to showcase the most prominent economic risks the world faces.

According to the data in the report, here are the top five risks to the global economy, in terms of their likelihood and potential impact:

Top Global Risks (by "Likelihood")   Top Global Risks (by "Impact")
#1 Extreme weather #1 Climate action failure
#2 Climate action failure #2 Weapons of mass destruction
#3 Natural disasters #3 Biodiversity loss
#4 Biodiversity loss #4 Extreme weather
#5 Humanmade environmental disasters #5 Water crises

With more emphasis being placed on environmental risks, how much do we need to worry?

According to the World Economic Forum, more than we can imagine. The report asserts that, among many other things, natural disasters are becoming more intense and more frequent.

While it can be difficult to extrapolate precisely how environmental risks could cascade into trouble for the global economy and financial system, here are some interesting examples of how they are already affecting Continue reading Visualizing the Biggest Risks to the Global Economy in 2020

The Sum of Its Parts: The Smartphone Multiplier Market


This post is curated by Keith Teare. It was written by Iman Ghosh. The original is [linked here]

COTW Smartphone Multiplier Market

The Sum of Its Parts: The Smartphone Multiplier Market

There’s a 60% chance you’re reading this article on a smartphone right now—a testament to how ubiquitous these devices have truly become in our lives.

We rely on smartphones every waking minute to stay connected. However, the various products and services—also known as the smartphone multiplier market—that allow us to use these devices in the first place can often be an afterthought.

Today’s chart uses data from Deloitte Insights to show just how sizable this ecosystem is becoming, and why it’s heating up as a battleground for big technology companies such as Apple, Alphabet, and Amazon.

The Smartphone Plateau

There are over 3.3 billion smartphone users in the world today.

The smartphone economy—estimated to pull in $944 billion in total revenue in 2020—is so massive that it rivals the GDP of countries like Indonesia and the Netherlands.

At the moment,

Smartphone Sales
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Continue reading The Sum of Its Parts: The Smartphone Multiplier Market

Data: Asset Relativity (and the Case of Bay Area Housing)

If you’ve lived in a country like the U.S. with a pretty stable currency, you probably think about how much things “cost” in seemingly absolute terms — of the currency. Things getting more expensive or less expensive comes down to …