Check In on the State of the Economy

This interesting chart from Russel Investments shows the current state of the economy and what it typically is according to seven key indicators such as credit risk, corporate debt, and market volatility. The blue bars provide a “typical” range, and the orange pointers show the current values. Above each orange pointer is an arrow that indicates whether we’re trending towards or away from the typical.

So for example, corporate debt is much higher than usual and it’s trending towards typical. Mortgage delinquencies, however, are trending away from the typical. Scary. The chart is updated once a month. Hopefully all those arrows are pointing towards blue soon.

[Thanks, Max]


  • Cool graphic, but where is the bar for public debt? I should think it would be heading way, way out from the typical. I’m also wondering where the current account deficit is, budget deficit, or even inflation?

  • I really enjoy the succinctness of this chart.

    Alex, I’m not sure inflation would have a typical level, because it trends rather than cycles. Debt too, in the US. Well, perhaps rate of change could be shown…

  • I like this aswell, though I wish I knew what or when defined the boundries of the extreme ends. Like, when was the TED spread 3.19, or when was economic expansion 17? If the extremes are based on data that’s pre-1930’s, I don’t know how useful it would be.

  • Very Nice – only change I would make is that I would line up all the blue bars vertically and base the blue bar ranges on some +/- sigma value and the end points on either a larger +/- sigma or min/max value for each indicator.

  • Agree with @Frank A. The relative locations and sizes of the blue bars seems to imply something, but what it implies is not obvious. Also the same holds true for the range/scale of the x axes. One needs to be very careful not to let these implicit pieces of info distort the chart – unless that is what you intend ;)

  • guys,

    A simple questions – I have seen many charts on this website – just wondering in you opinion all of them are created using Adobe illustrator or there are other pre-package graphical software?

    I have shared these type of chart with my business ppl but at the end question comes back to me we can’t install Adobe illustrator on everyone’s desk and nor we can tech this software to everyone. So, we end up using Microsoft Excel to create chart (which looks ugly compare the one shown here – 2008 version has some improvements but still not up to par)

    Are there any tool available (prefer open-source) that a non-designer can use and product high quality and visually appealing charts?

    Thanks in advance.