August 29, 2016
Makeover Monday: U.S. Companies Are Hoarding Trillions Offshore
First, I must give credit for finding this week’s Makeover Monday to Jade Le Van. She’s a massive supporter of the work everyone has been doing in this project. Thank you Jade for finding this beauty from CNBC.
There are so many problems with this visualisation. However, the most egregious mistake is that the data is completely wrong. The author took the original data set, which has the total money held offshore by a company and allocated that same amount to every country that each country has an affiliate in. For example, General Electric has $199B stored in 18 offshore subsidiaries spread across seven countries. The author allocated $199B to EACH of those seven countries. That’s simply wrong!
What doesn’t work?
- The data is inaccurate.
- The pie charts are a ridiculous choice, especially when you show every single company in each country.
- The companies aren’t sorted.
- The size of the pies isn’t proportionate across the difference columns. In other words, they aren’t all based on the same range.
- It’s impossible to find a company you might be interested in investigating.
What works well?
- Nothing; the whole visualisation is a complete disaster.
I had a few minutes to explore this data set while on the bus home, so I opened up the data in Vizable. Within about 20 seconds I had two views that were far superior to the original.
Quickly and easily, I have a view of just how much money companies are keeping offshore and who they are in a nice, simple ranked list. Great! I already have something much better than the original.
Two more swipes in Vizable and I’m now looking at the companies with the most offshore subsidiaries.
At this point, I felt I basically had all I needed to tell the story in Tableau. I quickly reproduced the two charts from Vizable, then added a Pareto chart for more context. Lastly, I added some headers above each chart to tell a synchronous story.