Visualising recession and recovery

  • June 9, 2015
Visualising recession and recovery

Cath Sleeman scoops award for her visualisation of three centuries of recession and recovery.

My entry aimed to contextualise the UK’s recent recession, by comparing it to recessions in other countries and to past recessions in the UK.

Cath Sleeman
A Gates Cambridge Alumna has won the first Bank of England data visualisation competition with an interactive web-based visualisation of recessions and recoveries.
 
The competition, launched as part of the Bank’s One Bank Research Agenda, asked competitors to create a novel or insightful visual representation of Bank data sets that were made publicly available for the first time.
 
Cath Sleeman's winning entry explored how the UK's most recent recession, and subsequent recovery, compared to recessions in other countries and to previous recessions in the UK.
Some of the areas which the visualisation highlighted were the current weak recovery in productivity growth in the UK compared to productivity growth following UK recessions in the ‘80s and ‘90s which was particularly strong compared to other G7 members; the similarity between the most recent recession and a recession that took place 100 years earlier, in 1908 which triggered a similar sized fall in GDP and was accompanied by a similar lacklustre recovery in productivity; the fact that the the most severe recessions in the UK have all been triggered by global events.
 
The announcement of the £5,000 prize was made as part of a finalists’ day last week at which shortlisted entrants presented their visualisation to a panel including Chief Economist, Andy Haldane; Chairman of the NATO Research Task Group on visual analytics, Margaret Varga; artist and author of Data Soliloquies, Martin Callanan; and Advanced Analytics Analyst, Lyndsey Pereira-Brereton.
 
Deputy Governor, Ben Broadbent, said: "Congratulations to Cath Sleeman on the outstanding use of our three centuries of macroeconomic data. It provided a fascinating perspective on the pattern of economic cycles in the UK and other countries.”
 
Cath is a Quantitative Research Fellow at Nesta and is interested in analysing and visualising new and complex datasets. She said:  “I entered the Bank’s data visualisation competition because I really enjoy analysing and visualising new and interesting data sets. My entry aimed to contextualise the UK’s recent recession, by comparing it to recessions in other countries and to past recessions in the UK.
 
"I am extremely grateful to the Bank for running the competition. It was great to meet the other finalists and to learn more about the Bank’s Advanced Analytics unit.”
Cath's previous visualisations have ranged from exploring stagnation in the Top 40 Music Chart to examining the tribal nature of Westminster's politicians on Twitter.
 
At Cambridge she completed a PhD in Economics where she evaluated four changes in UK public policy, including the temporary cut in VAT. She says the programming skills she developed during her PhD have been extremely valuable for her current role.
 
For more information on Cath's visualisation, click here
 
*Picture of Canary Wharf: Wiki Commons Images and Diliff.

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