The Year In 4 Charts : Planet Money Jobs, the deficit and the 1 percent. Also: Why did anyone ever think Greece was the same as Germany?

The Year In 4 Charts

I wish I'd been the first, second or third person to think of getting a bunch of econ types to submit their entry for Chart of the Year. Alas, the BBC, the Atlantic and Wonkblog all beat me to it.

The originals are all worth clicking through. But if you're too busy even to look through a few dozen charts (really?), or if looking through a few dozen charts doesn't sound as fun to you as it sounds to me (plausible), I've picked four that really seem to nail it, for different reasons.

1. GDP came back. Jobs didn't.

Mark Perry writes:

the chart helps to tell the story of two different sides of an economy in recovery: we've seen huge gains in productivity and a recovery in output, but at the same time we see a labor market struggling to recover, with the possibility that it will take many more years or even a decade to regain all of the millions of jobs lost during the recession

2. "The 1 percent" became a household phrase.

The one percent

Mike Konczal writes:

There was a moment of synchronicity between a report years in the making from the economic wonks at CBO and the activists planning on occupying a square near Wall Street. Both turned critical attention towards the idea of the 1%. As CBO found, even after taxes and transfers, the top 1% were taking a much bigger slice out of the America economy than 30 years ago.

3. Government spending was still high. Tax revenues were still low. The deficit was still big. ("High," "low," and "big" all relative to the norms of the last 50 years.)

Spending and Revenues
Kent Conrad/Senate Budget Committee

Sen. Kent Conrad submitted this one to Wonkblog. For more on what the government spent money on this year, and where tax revenues came from, see this very useful CBO infographic, also cited by Wonkblog.

4. Everybody stopped thinking that Italy was the same as Germany.

European yields Thomson Reuters Datastream hide caption

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Thomson Reuters Datastream

The European financial crisis is all about countries on Europe's periphery having to pay higher interest rates to borrow money, while the rates for Germany remain super low.

But the chart above (which appeared in both the BBC and Atlantic best-of lists) suggests that what we're seeing now is a return to the normal state of affairs. The anomaly was the decade after the euro was introduced, when lenders treated Greece and the rest of the euro zone as identical to Germany.