• For many home activities Google search traffic remains higher than usual Link
    The Economist Data Team Thu 06 Aug 2020 17:59

    Editor’s note: Some of our covid-19 coverage is free for readers of The Economist Today, our daily newsletter. For more stories and our pandemic tracker, see our hub

    COVID-19 HAS altered life as we know it. When governments imposed lockdowns in March, people transformed their homes into makeshift offices, gyms and pubs. For many, crammed commutes and bustling nightlife became a distant memory. Now that countries have eased restrictions, residents are venturing outside again—but not as much as before. Globally, they made perhaps 25% fewer trips per day in July than they did in early March, according to The Economist’s analysis of Google’s phone-tracking data.

    Consumer caution has hit some industries harder than others. By training a statistical model on Google’s global search data since 2016, we find that traffic for “restaurant” (or similar words in other languages) is currently 17% lower than we would usually expect for this time of year. Booze stores may be doing...

  • RT @EconomistRadio: The Economist’s excess-death tracker now incorporates better global data. @J_CD_T tells “The Intelligence” that gives d…
    The Economist Data Team Thu 06 Aug 2020 16:34
  • Outside wartime, few explosions compare to the blast in Beirut. It was so powerful that it was heard in Cyprus, 150 miles away Link
    The Economist Data Team Thu 06 Aug 2020 05:23

    THE BLAST that flattened Beirut’s port on Tuesday has killed more than 135 people and injured thousands more (the number of confirmed fatalities is expected to rise). Lebanon’s Higher Defence Council, chaired by the president and prime minister, has declared the city a “disaster zone”. The country, which was already facing a financial crisis, is now confronted by a humanitarian one. What sparked the explosion is not yet clear, but its potency seemingly came from more than 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that authorities were storing in a warehouse. History shows that disasters involving the chemical are tragically common, and should be preventable.

    Ammonium nitrate has been used widely in crop fertilisers since the 1940s. It usually comes in pellets, which are cheap to make and stable under normal conditions. But at high enough temperatures the chemical can detonate. This makes it useful as part of industrial explosives in mining, and as a popular bomb-making material...

  • Ammonium nitrate had been involved in deadly explosions from Texas to Iran, and now in Beirut Link
    The Economist Data Team Thu 06 Aug 2020 00:58

    THE BLAST that flattened Beirut’s port on Tuesday has killed more than 135 people and injured thousands more. Lebanon’s Higher Defence Council, chaired by the president and prime minister, has declared the city a “disaster zone”. The country, which was already facing a financial crisis, is now confronted by a humanitarian one. What sparked the explosion is not yet clear, but its potency seemingly came from more than 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that authorities were storing in a warehouse. History shows that disasters involving the chemical are tragically common, and should be preventable.

    Ammonium nitrate has been used widely in crop fertilisers since the 1940s. It usually comes in pellets, which are cheap to make and stable under normal conditions. But at high enough temperatures the chemical can detonate. This makes it useful as part of industrial explosives in mining, and as a popular bomb-making material for terrorists.

  • Lebanon, which was already facing a financial crisis, is now confronted by a humanitarian one Link
    The Economist Data Team Wed 05 Aug 2020 20:48

    THE BLAST that flattened Beirut’s port on Tuesday has killed more than 135 people and injured thousands more. Lebanon’s Higher Defence Council, chaired by the president and prime minister, has declared the city a “disaster zone”. The country, which was already facing a financial crisis, is now confronted by a humanitarian one. What sparked the explosion is not yet clear, but its potency seemingly came from more than 2,700 tonnes of ammonium nitrate that authorities were storing in a warehouse. History shows that disasters involving the chemical are tragically common, and should be preventable.

    Ammonium nitrate has been used widely in crop fertilisers since the 1940s. It usually comes in pellets, which are cheap to make and stable under normal conditions. But at high enough temperatures the chemical can detonate. This makes it useful as part of industrial explosives in mining, and as a popular bomb-making material for terrorists.

  • Donald Trump threatened to shut down TikTok, the popular social-media app, unless it is bought by a “very American” company Link
    The Economist Data Team Wed 05 Aug 2020 16:08

    THE POLITICS of technology in America are becoming ever more febrile. Big tech companies have long been accused of abusing dominant market positions; four were grilled by a congressional committee last week. Social-media firms are beset by allegations of bias. And the administration of President Donald Trump regards China’s growing technological prowess as a threat to both America’s competitiveness and its national security.

    In recent days the anti-Chinese theme has taken a new twist: Microsoft looks likely to buy the American assets of TikTok, a Chinese-made social-media app that teenagers around the world find addictive. Mr Trump, who has threatened to “close down” the app on September 15th unless it is bought by a “very American” company, has blessed the idea. In a further Trumpian turn he has also demanded that the Treasury should get “a very large percentage of the purchase price”, having been responsible for bringing the deal about.

  • Microsoft's shareholders appear to welcome the acquisition, despite the political uncertainties and a suggested purchase price of $50bn Link
    The Economist Data Team Wed 05 Aug 2020 11:08

    THE POLITICS of technology in America are becoming ever more febrile. Big tech companies have long been accused of abusing dominant market positions; four were grilled by a congressional committee last week. Social-media firms are beset by allegations of bias. And the administration of President Donald Trump regards China’s growing technological prowess as a threat to both America’s competitiveness and its national security.

    In recent days the anti-Chinese theme has taken a new twist: Microsoft looks likely to buy the American assets of TikTok, a Chinese-made social-media app that teenagers around the world find addictive. Mr Trump, who has threatened to “close down” the app on September 15th unless it is bought by a “very American” company, has blessed the idea. In a further Trumpian turn he has also demanded that the Treasury should get “a very large percentage of the purchase price”, having been responsible for bringing the deal about.

  • Since the announcement of the prospective TikTok deal Microsoft’s share price has risen by 4% Link
    The Economist Data Team Wed 05 Aug 2020 06:47

    THE POLITICS of technology in America are becoming ever more febrile. Big tech companies have long been accused of abusing dominant market positions; four were grilled by a congressional committee last week. Social-media firms are beset by allegations of bias. And the administration of President Donald Trump regards China’s growing technological prowess as a threat to both America’s competitiveness and its national security.

    In recent days the anti-Chinese theme has taken a new twist: Microsoft looks likely to buy the American assets of TikTok, a Chinese-made social-media app that teenagers around the world find addictive. Mr Trump, who has threatened to “close down” the app on September 15th unless it is bought by a “very American” company, has blessed the idea. In a further Trumpian turn he has also demanded that the Treasury should get “a very large percentage of the purchase price”, having been responsible for bringing the deal about.

  • China has complained that a deal between Microsoft and TikTok would amount to a “smash and grab” raid on a Chinese company Link
    The Economist Data Team Wed 05 Aug 2020 01:07

    THE POLITICS of technology in America are becoming ever more febrile. Big tech companies have long been accused of abusing dominant market positions; four were grilled by a congressional committee last week. Social-media firms are beset by allegations of bias. And the administration of President Donald Trump regards China’s growing technological prowess as a threat to both America’s competitiveness and its national security.

    In recent days the anti-Chinese theme has taken a new twist: Microsoft looks likely to buy the American assets of TikTok, a Chinese-made social-media app that teenagers around the world find addictive. Mr Trump, who has threatened to “close down” the app on September 15th unless it is bought by a “very American” company, has blessed the idea. In a further Trumpian turn he has also demanded that the Treasury should get “a very large percentage of the purchase price”, having been responsible for bringing the deal about.

  • Which states will Donald Trump win come November? Which ones are likely to turn blue? Our statistical model shows what The Economist forecasts Link https://t.co/sKwAD12ZT2
    The Economist Data Team Tue 04 Aug 2020 23:22

    Sources: US Census Bureau; MIT Election and Data Science Lab; 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Study; US Bureau of Economic Analysis; American National Election Studies; 270towin.com; Gallup; FiveThirtyEight; YouGov

    Forecast by The Economist with Andrew Gelman and Merlin Heidemanns, Columbia University

  • Donald Trump perceives ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, as too close to the Chinese government and the Communist Party Link
    The Economist Data Team Tue 04 Aug 2020 21:07

    THE POLITICS of technology in America are becoming ever more febrile. Big tech companies have long been accused of abusing dominant market positions; four were grilled by a congressional committee last week. Social-media firms are beset by allegations of bias. And the administration of President Donald Trump regards China’s growing technological prowess as a threat to both America’s competitiveness and its national security.

    In recent days the anti-Chinese theme has taken a new twist: Microsoft looks likely to buy the American assets of TikTok, a Chinese-made social-media app that teenagers around the world find addictive. Mr Trump, who has threatened to “close down” the app on September 15th unless it is bought by a “very American” company, has blessed the idea. In a further Trumpian turn he has also demanded that the Treasury should get “a very large percentage of the purchase price”, having been responsible for bringing the deal about.

  • Homicide rates are up in America. Usually, they taper in September when people return to school—this year may be different Link
    The Economist Data Team Tue 04 Aug 2020 15:02

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP claims that an “anti-police crusade” orchestrated by the American left has led to a “shocking explosion of shootings, killings, murders and heinous crimes of violence.” On July 22nd he announced he would send a surge of federal agents to police big cities. But the evidence that America is experiencing a serious crime wave is mixed at best. Although official national crime statistics may not arrive for another year, data from some two dozen big cities compiled by David Abrams of the University of Pennsylvania show that so far this year crime overall is actually down by around 10% compared with the same period in 2015-19 (see chart).

    There are some important exceptions to this decline. Non-residential burglaries spiked in early June, coinciding with anti-racist protests triggered by the killing of George Floyd, when looting of retail stores was common. Domestic violence has also probably increased. Data are sparse because only a small fraction of...

  • Overall crime does not appear to have increased this year in America, despite protests and the pandemic. But domestic abuse and homicide rates are on the rise The Economist Data Team Tue 04 Aug 2020 09:07

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP claims that an “anti-police crusade” orchestrated by the American left has led to a “shocking explosion of shootings, killings, murders and heinous crimes of violence.” On July 22nd he announced he would send a surge of federal agents to police big cities. But the evidence that America is experiencing a serious crime wave is mixed at best. Although official national crime statistics may not arrive for another year, data from some two dozen big cities compiled by David Abrams of the University of Pennsylvania show that so far this year crime overall is actually down by around 10% compared with the same period in 2015-19 (see chart).

    There are some important exceptions to this decline. Non-residential burglaries spiked in early June, coinciding with anti-racist protests triggered by the killing of George Floyd, when looting of retail stores was common. Domestic violence has also probably increased. Data are sparse because only a small fraction of...

  • While overall crime does not seem to have increased this year in America, domestic abuse and homicide rates are on the rise Link
    The Economist Data Team Tue 04 Aug 2020 04:11

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP claims that an “anti-police crusade” orchestrated by the American left has led to a “shocking explosion of shootings, killings, murders and heinous crimes of violence.” On July 22nd he announced he would send a surge of federal agents to police big cities. But the evidence that America is experiencing a serious crime wave is mixed at best. Although official national crime statistics may not arrive for another year, data from some two dozen big cities compiled by David Abrams of the University of Pennsylvania show that so far this year crime overall is actually down by around 10% compared with the same period in 2015-19 (see chart).

    There are some important exceptions to this decline. Non-residential burglaries spiked in early June, coinciding with anti-racist protests triggered by the killing of George Floyd, when looting of retail stores was common. Domestic violence has also probably increased. Data are sparse because only a small fraction of...

  • Data show that crime in two dozen American cities is down 10% compared with the same period in 2015-19 Link
    The Economist Data Team Mon 03 Aug 2020 23:06

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP claims that an “anti-police crusade” orchestrated by the American left has led to a “shocking explosion of shootings, killings, murders and heinous crimes of violence.” On July 22nd he announced he would send a surge of federal agents to police big cities. But the evidence that America is experiencing a serious crime wave is mixed at best. Although official national crime statistics may not arrive for another year, data from some two dozen big cities compiled by David Abrams of the University of Pennsylvania show that so far this year crime overall is actually down by around 10% compared with the same period in 2015-19 (see chart).

    There are some important exceptions to this decline. Non-residential burglaries spiked in early June, coinciding with anti-racist protests triggered by the killing of George Floyd, when looting of retail stores was common. Domestic violence has also probably increased. Data are sparse because only a small fraction of...

  • RT @AlexSelbyB: For the second year running, @TheEconomist data team has won a silver @malofiej award ? for our 'Graphic detail' print port…
    The Economist Data Team Mon 03 Aug 2020 20:35
  • Donald Trump has claimed that the recent “anti-police crusade” in America has led to a crime wave. But the evidence is mixed at best Link
    The Economist Data Team Mon 03 Aug 2020 19:00

    PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP claims that an “anti-police crusade” orchestrated by the American left has led to a “shocking explosion of shootings, killings, murders and heinous crimes of violence.” On July 22nd he announced he would send a surge of federal agents to police big cities. But the evidence that America is experiencing a serious crime wave is mixed at best. Although official national crime statistics may not arrive for another year, data from some two dozen big cities compiled by David Abrams of the University of Pennsylvania show that so far this year crime overall is actually down by around 10% compared with the same period in 2015-19 (see chart).

    There are some important exceptions to this decline. Non-residential burglaries spiked in early June, coinciding with anti-racist protests triggered by the killing of George Floyd, when looting of retail stores was common. Domestic violence has also probably increased. Data are sparse because only a small fraction of...

  • The Big Mac index makes exchange-rate theory more digestible Link
    The Economist Data Team Mon 03 Aug 2020 16:10

    THE BIG MAC index was invented by The Economist in 1986 as a lighthearted guide to whether currencies are at their “correct” level. It is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity (PPP), the notion that in the long run exchange rates should move towards the rate that would equalise the prices of an identical basket of goods and services (in this case, a burger) in any two countries.

  • Who will win the electoral college? Who will win the popular vote? Explore our US presidential forecast Link
    The Economist Data Team Mon 03 Aug 2020 02:35

    Sources: US Census Bureau; MIT Election and Data Science Lab; 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Study; US Bureau of Economic Analysis; American National Election Studies; 270towin.com; Gallup; FiveThirtyEight; YouGov

    Forecast by The Economist with Andrew Gelman and Merlin Heidemanns, Columbia University

  • We created a clone of President Donald Trump’s profile to test what Twitter's algorithm shows him Link
    The Economist Data Team Sun 02 Aug 2020 23:04

    SINCE LAUNCHING a policy on “misleading information” in May, Twitter has clashed with President Donald Trump. When he described mail-in ballots as “substantially fraudulent”, the platform told users to “get the facts” and linked to articles that proved otherwise. After Mr Trump threatened looters with death—“when the looting starts, the shooting starts”—Twitter said his tweet broke its rules against “glorifying violence”. On July 28th the site took down a tweet by Donald Trump junior promoting a malaria drug for covid-19 that plenty of studies discredit.

    The president says that “social media platforms totally silence conservatives’ voices.” However, a study by The Economist finds the opposite. Twitter’s feed used to show people the latest posts from accounts they followed, but in 2016 it launched an algorithm to serve “relevant” tweets to users, even if they were days old and from unfamiliar accounts. We compared the two systems, and found that the recommendation engine...

  • Which states and cities are most severely affected by covid-19? We're tracking the virus's path across America Link https://t.co/4kQOHazu19
    The Economist Data Team Sun 02 Aug 2020 13:19

    Whether it is a second wave or just the continuation of the first, one thing is certain: covid-19 in America is getting worse. On July 23rd the number of confirmed cases in the country surpassed 4m, with new infections increasing at an alarming rate of 70,000 a day. President Donald Trump, who has sought to downplay the severity of the pandemic, conceded on July 21st that things “will get worse before they get better”.

  • In a sample of 120,000 tweets, the posts recommended by the algorithm were more likely to sit near either end of a positive-to-negative scale of emotions Link
    The Economist Data Team Sat 01 Aug 2020 23:08

    SINCE LAUNCHING a policy on “misleading information” in May, Twitter has clashed with President Donald Trump. When he described mail-in ballots as “substantially fraudulent”, the platform told users to “get the facts” and linked to articles that proved otherwise. After Mr Trump threatened looters with death—“when the looting starts, the shooting starts”—Twitter said his tweet broke its rules against “glorifying violence”. On July 28th the site took down a tweet by Donald Trump junior promoting a malaria drug for covid-19 that plenty of studies discredit.

    The president says that “social media platforms totally silence conservatives’ voices.” However, a study by The Economist finds the opposite. Twitter’s feed used to show people the latest posts from accounts they followed, but in 2016 it launched an algorithm to serve “relevant” tweets to users, even if they were days old and from unfamiliar accounts. We compared the two systems, and found that the recommendation engine...

  • Twitter's recommendation engine appears to reward inflammatory language and outlandish claims Link
    The Economist Data Team Sat 01 Aug 2020 13:48

    SINCE LAUNCHING a policy on “misleading information” in May, Twitter has clashed with President Donald Trump. When he described mail-in ballots as “substantially fraudulent”, the platform told users to “get the facts” and linked to articles that proved otherwise. After Mr Trump threatened looters with death—“when the looting starts, the shooting starts”—Twitter said his tweet broke its rules against “glorifying violence”. On July 28th the site took down a tweet by Donald Trump junior promoting a malaria drug for covid-19 that plenty of studies discredit.

    The president says that “social media platforms totally silence conservatives’ voices.” However, a study by The Economist finds the opposite. Twitter’s feed used to show people the latest posts from accounts they followed, but in 2016 it launched an algorithm to serve “relevant” tweets to users, even if they were days old and from unfamiliar accounts. We compared the two systems, and found that the recommendation engine...

  • During the roughly six weeks India was in lockdown, air pollution in Delhi fell significantly and energy produced by solar-power increased by as much as 8.3% Link
    The Economist Data Team Sat 01 Aug 2020 10:18

    CORONAVIRUS-INDUCED lockdowns shuttered factories and halted daily commutes across much of the world in March and April. As a result, global electricity use is expected to drop by 5% this year, according to the Institute for Economic Affairs, a think-tank with its headquarters in London. City-dwellers have enjoyed cleaner air thanks to dramatically lower levels of air pollutants, such as nitrogen dioxide. The clearer, sunnier skies have also helped boost solar generation in many places to record highs.

  • Which states and cities are most severely affected by covid-19? We're tracking the virus's path across America Link https://t.co/nGXnnLIG0H
    The Economist Data Team Sat 01 Aug 2020 09:18

    Whether it is a second wave or just the continuation of the first, one thing is certain: covid-19 in America is getting worse. On July 23rd the number of confirmed cases in the country surpassed 4m, with new infections increasing at an alarming rate of 70,000 a day. President Donald Trump, who has sought to downplay the severity of the pandemic, conceded on July 21st that things “will get worse before they get better”.

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