Archive for the ‘The Economist’ Category


How many countries can a citizen visit without a visa? [Bonus Economist Graph Edition]

In Politics,The Economist,Travel on Thursday 5th March, 2009 by Guy

I have considering the titular question for some time, and today The Economist did its job of answering it for me by relaying the findings of Henley and Partners, who apparently “are the world’s leading specialists in international residence and citizenship planning”, as well as being tax avoidance advisers, by their own reckoning. I’m proud to advertise their services.

A graph showing some of the more notable countries and interesting statistics is at The Economist’s website, while H&P’s full list is in PDF form at their site.

Some of the most interesting finds for me are:

  • Afghanistan comes last, followed by Iraq. Is this because of the American invasions? They rank even lower than Somalia and North Korea.
  • What causes some of the small discrepancies between the countries whose citizens have greatest freedom to travel? To take the most obvious example, what is that extra country that gave Denmark the sole lead with 157 countries not requiring a visa from its citizens? Which countries let in Portuguese but not Brits?
  • Courtesy of the cat: If one could have two passports from any on the list, which ones should be chosen in order to maximise the number of visa-less countries one could travel to? Denmark’s might not necessarily be one of them, of course. Similarly for three passports, and so on. And so what is the minimum number of passports needed in order to visit every country in the world without a visa, assuming it’s possible? Is it possible?
  • Even more interesting would be to list the countries in order of how many other countries’ citizens can enter them freely. I suspect it’d look quite different from this one, maybe even to the extent that merely listing them in the opposite order to the current one would almost suffice…
  • A 0-1 matrix showing which countries let in which other countries’ citizens will answer most of the questions. Come on, Economist, I’m waiting…



Graphs of the Economist: Permanent Edition

In Real-World Stats,Statistics,The Economist on Thursday 26th February, 2009 by Guy

Unsurprisingly I didn’t keep up with my extremely intermittent series of Graphs of the Economist. In the meantime, though, I took the trouble to set up an RSS feed that will deliver a dose of Economist graphingdom every. Single. Day. Right to your, erm, RSS feed reader.

Get it here:


China not so much rising as regressing to a new mean

In Politics,Real-World Stats,Statistics,The Economist on Tuesday 17th April, 2007 by Guy

Trust that leader of ‘papers, The Economist, to supply graphs that get to the heart of a matter faster than a million pundits’ articles (give or take):

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket [source: The Economist, 29/03/07 edition]

All that hogwash about how China will imminently rule us all, presumably just before we all get to live underwater, is just that: a pigbath, a swineshower. Utter nonsense, for those less deft with metaphors amongst you. GDP is not the all-important measure of wealth that many think it is, let alone happiness or power, but even if China did once again reach the world share of it that it had 400 years ago, the consequences would not be as dire for the “West” as they were for China under occupation by that same “West” only a century ago. I smell the rotten whiff of racism emanating from fears of lots of Orientals becoming as wealthy as Europeans, but I can’t find the corpse to prove it.

Chill out.

[I do wonder how the graph-creators decided on what the height of the bars should be, but even with the possibility of substantial errors in estimation, the message seems clear enough].


Brazil’s “foreign” policy?

In Politics,Random fun stuff,The Economist on Tuesday 20th March, 2007 by Guy

George William Bush went on a short vacation to South and Central America recently at the American taxpayers’ expense, and in return he agreed to meet those funny-talkin’ people who run the place. In Brazil they talk real funny:

There was no visible progress on the Doha round of world trade talks, though the American trade representative, Susan Schwab, spent an extra day in São Paulo to talk to Brazilian officials and industrialists. And Lula, somewhat mystifyingly, insisted that “we’re going firmly toward finding the so-called G-spot for making a deal.” [my emphasis, as if it were needed]


Why wasn’t this the top story of every self-respecting news organisation in the world? The only online articles I can find about it are from the Guardian’s blog-thing (well done on this count) and… which has exactly the same article (I retract my compliment. Bad Guardian, bad!).

So what’s going on there then? Any and all ideas welcome, especially if they’re totally irrelevant.


Graphs of The Economist 2: Passport Costs

In Facty facts,Politics,Random fun stuff,The Economist on Sunday 6th August, 2006 by Guy

You were craving the next installment in this most timorously-coloured of series, I know it. So I tease you no more (and also take my finger out of the dyke, as the Dutch people once put it, but possibly don’t any more, and almost certainly not in English, at least initially) and present to you the second Excellent Graph of The Economist Newspaper:

Passport costs

[from Passport costs at]

As they put it:

While immigration policies attract a lot of attention, emigration policies receive little. But it is hard and costly to leave some places, according to a study of 127 countries by David McKenzie at the World Bank. Obtaining a passport costs 10% or more of annual income per head in 14 countries, including Nepal, Laos, Tajikistan and 11 African states. In absolute terms, Turks pay the most: $334 for a five-year passport.

The staff writer behind this compact summary neglected to mention what I would consider the two most striking figures: that Armenians get free passports for some inscrutable reason, and that the poor (in terms of money and luck) Congolese had to pay more than the average year’s wages for one of their country’s passports. Why a passport should cost more than a day’s wages in any country is baffling, and the Armenians, assuming they haven’t changed their system, seem to have it the fairest way. If one is a citizen of a state, then surely one is entitled to a passport of that state, assuming one is entitled to emigrate [this issue will be passed over here]? This entitlement should not depend on ability to stump up an arbitrary figure, just as it should not be based on political belief, or colour of hair, say. (I could see why mullet-bearing plebs might be denied one, come to that, but that’s an anomaly. They should be shot in the first instance anyway so that one doesn’t need to, erm, mull over this question. Sorry. I’m really sorry. Please forgive me).

The argument that passports should be sold at least “at cost”, i.e. such that the producers of the passport break even, is specious. The “consumers” of the passport don’t have a choice over who to purchase their passport from, so that the cost of production is entirely at the discretion of the monopoly passport producer — invariably some Government department or quango. Witness how standard 32-page passports in the UK cost £42 in October 2005, the date of reference of the graph’s data, and now cost £51, and will soon cost £66, apparently in order to combat fraud or somesuch nonsense. If the Goverment wants to “upgrade” passports, it should do so with the taxes we already pay, or at least offer its citizens a choice of how ‘secure’ they wish their passports to be (for everyone knows these ‘security features’ are not worth the ink required to write about them, even if no ink is used).

If I insist on not having the courtesy to structure my diatribes properly I should at least make them funnier. Apologies.


Graphs of The Economist 1

In Politics,The Economist on Wednesday 24th May, 2006 by Guy

In the first of an occasional series (so occasional that the last “episode” was in 2003.. Heck, so occasional that I can call this entry the first one in the series. At what point do series get re-numbered?), I shall be presenting Interesting, Revealing or Poignant Graphs of The Economist. No, I’ve never come across a Poignant Graph of The Economist yet, but that doesn’t mean I won’t. One has to be ready.

In case you’ve forgotten, The Economist is the best magazine ever in the world ever. That is so true it doesn’t even require it as a by-line, but instead requires that others call it a newspaper for some flatulatory reasons. Its graphs are not by any means what it is famous for, but they should be. With their dull, slightly painful colour schemes, they stand as totems of truth against, erm, the totems of untruth. The world can be described as a line in the Cartesian plane, and all is well with it.

The first example of this modern miracle:


That’s right, now you know which cities are the best, worst, and in-betweenest to live in, apparently as an expatriot. Combined with the regular graph on prices of cities around the world, you could (but I won’t; after all, you’re the jet-setter, not me) find out which city is the most cost-effective to live in. But then you probably have a business to run. In fact, why are you still reading this? Shoo.