1,000 years’ worth of data from our summer issue

Chuck Burke | Aug 15, 2018

Whether we’re tying modern globalization to the insular economies of 1,000 years ago, deconstructing the inclinations of mutual-fund managers, or searching for substantial ways to measure fundamental happiness, data always seem to find their way to the center of the story. That’s certainly the case here at Chicago Booth Review, where our Summer 2018 issue features nearly two dozen charts and infographics. Here is a selection of some of our most interesting data visualizations.

Globalization is close to its ‘holy cow’ moment

Part of an essay challenging outdated ideas about international trade, this chart explores the global balance of income over the past 1,000 years. It includes a rarity in the world of data visualization: a large section—about two-thirds of its space—in which almost nothing changes. The author calls this span of centuries the Great Stagnation, a time when India and China continually held about half of the world’s GDP, roughly matching their share of the global population. This presentation not only contextualizes the G7’s swift rise during and after the Industrial Revolution, but it also helps illustrate the author’s argument that a new brand of globalization has been on the rise in recent decades.

A millennium of global wealth

Click below to see how the global balance of wealth has shifted over the centuries, including a marked decline in the G7's share in recent decades

The Great Stagnation
1000–1820

Modern Globalization
1820–1990

New Globalization
1990–present

Baldwin 2016

Actively managed, but more index-like

An analysis of 2,789 actively managed mutual funds between 1979 and 2014 finds that fund portfolios have become more liquid over time, largely as a result of becoming more diversified. This sequence of charts within charts illustrates how the researchers use a combination of custom portfolio characteristics to construct a measure of portfolio liquidity. The research captures the rise of closet indexing among active-mutual-fund managers, a phenomenon that may be caused by managers hewing toward the benchmark they are trying to outperform. 

Has the hunt for investable factors gone too far?

Hundreds of “factors”—a catch-all term for the mechanisms that drive asset prices—have been introduced over the years in an effort to explain stock returns. A team of researchers has devised a method to test the value of each new factor as it’s proposed, assessing how well it explains stock prices beyond all other factors that came before it. This chart is designed as a timeline of building blocks, illustrating not only how factors have accumulated over time but also how few actually passed the test by offering new, statistically significant contributions.

Upgrades have their limits

Sometimes “bigger” is better. Other times bigger is just bigger. And researchers are exploring ways to understand the difference by studying hedonic durability, or how long happiness sticks around after a change. Study participants spent time using two e-readers, a smaller one and then a larger one. People initially liked the upgrade, but that happiness faded over time. This graphic puts the participants’ ratings on a timeline and includes drawings sized in proportion to the actual e-readers used in the study.