25-Oct-15 1 Comment
18-Oct-15 Leave a comment
The addition of the third dimension to the charts that most people make is something that has always puzzled me. It seems as if restating an essentially flat planar picture by including an added dimension adds more ‘depth’ to the message. I guess folks with a predilection to 3D think that they are adding more weight to their chart (and therefore their argument) by doing this. And also some ‘enhanced’ aesthetics.
That gets me to my main point. This is so so wrong. It is not about the chart at all. The excessive use of 3D talks a lot about the person who prepares this chart. Yes, a lot of criticism has been leveled at Microsoft Excel for continuing to offer super un-intuitive and irrelevant chart options and presets in its charting menus. Ribbons have come and gone but MS Excel continues to offer murderous weapons of data visualization. Now, if a murder is committed and a data story is brutally butchered, the culprit is not the agency that manufactured the weapon but the hands and brain that performed the mutilation.
So why do people do it? I have the following hunches:
My suggestion: avoid 3D unless showing spatial engineering, scientific or mathematical data. I don’t think too many readers of my website are engaged in visualization of engineering data like the locus of an electron in a cyclotron, or the spatial plot of isomorphic mathematical figures ….
MS Excel is vilified, but it is just a tool and quite powerful at that if one handles it with patience and precision. Maybe passion as well. I have pinned below some of my favourite visualizations that I have posted on this website earlier. Each of them have been prepared by me using standard features of MS Excel and the image editing functions of MS PowerPoint. :)
28-Sep-15 Leave a comment
India and US trends in acreage per farm plot are opposite. Farms in the US are getting larger while those in India are shrinking. Consolidation lends to economies of scale, higher mechanization rates and therefore greater productivity and profits per acre. Farmers in the US are experimenting with big data, information analytics with farmers showing as much interest in selling the data from their farms as much as their crops. Farmers in India, on the other hand, are contemplating ending their lives adding to the
big bigger data points on farmer suicide statistics – at least some of them kill themselves each year. The rate however is not as alarming as it is made out to be. More people die of suicides outside of the farms. I am sure depression kills more in our cities but farmers attract attention.
The chart above shows the general shrinkage of farm sizes across the India. The average size of farmland in India has fallen from 2.28 hectares in 1970-’71 to 1.16 hectares in 2010-’11. Punjab is an exception. If you want to sell tractors and motor pumps and pvc pipes, this is the place to hang your shingle. Increased mechanization and dwindling farm incomes forced many small farmers to quit farming, migrate to Kanaada leading to a consolidation of farmlands. In almost every other state, there is a shrinkage. It is no doubt a consequence of
increasing pressure on the land due to an ever expanding population. With lower farm plots (i.e. capital) and the low productivity rates, it is impossible for the farm incomes (return on capital) to be enough to feed the
stomachs aspirations of all the strapping young village gabrus hanging around in the hinterland. Kerala and Bihar are the two states with the lowest average acreage per farm plot. It is not surprising that the villagers from these states are most likely to be found migrating to other parts of the country in search of work. Trains are best avoided during annual jaunts like the Chhath Puja when all the itinerant workers head back to their native places to take the traditional early morning dip in obeisance to the sun who no longer shines on their farms as it once used to.
08-Sep-15 Leave a comment
The stock of Tata Motors has fallen ~45% in the last 7 months! That’s a big drop for a big company. The stock’s around 10 times it’s trailing 12 months’ earnings. Upstarts like Flipkart are getting valued more than Tata Motors. That’s surprising. Is it about the unattractiveness of the business of making cars or is it a case of over-valuation of ecommerce businesses or is it both? Tata cars are everywhere, including China. It’s quite a venerable brand not to have a Peter Lynchian roadhead moment on:
I am a hard working taxi driver and I have seen my share of cabs and cars (mostly cars that looked like cars) and have even heard of some feline roadhogs (read Jaguars) and then my last passenger told me about this massive 45% drop in the share price of the company that makes these things. I have this Peter Lynch moment and I want to buy this stock.
It’s the crumbling of the Chinese walls that is a part of the reason why the stock’s down. Cool Chinese have been doing uncool things like not buying Jaguars as much as they used to earlier. Things have been very bad for the company during the last couple of quarters. So bad that they chose to raise capital via a rights issue. That’s a sure shot sign of severe financial stress. Worse, the stock price kept of falling leaving the rights price level far behind. And then the unkindest cut was the skipping of dividend by the folks that run this rather complex business.
But then I am a surfer. An opportunist and a speculator. I am rooting for a 35% return on this idea.
Here’s some pointers to mull over:
05-Sep-15 Leave a comment
Yesterday was unusually different. We have all lived through hotter days but the combination of dryness, heat and disappointment was unique given it is just the start of September. The weathermen and all related folks consider the rainfall received in the four month period from June to September as representing the rainfall for a particular year’s S.W. Monsoon quota. Using data from the
India Meteorological Department (IMD) website, here is the story in pictures.
2015 monsoon till date has been grossly insufficient and with just Sep 2015’s data to be made available, things don’t seem to be looking too bright. With days like yesterday, I am not sure if the rest of the days left in this month will make good the gap. So, in addition to the external stories weighing down on the stock market, this internal will, no doubt, add impetus to the decline. Maybe the efficient markets have factored this in, maybe not. The Indian economy may be resilient to droughts but it is certainly not drought proof.
If you look at the charts below, the heavens have not been too kind over the last 15 years. Looks quite similar to the decade at the start of the 20th century.