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Making economics palatable for the visually-oriented

Making economics palatable for the visually-oriented

If you can get past the snore-inducing title, the Atlas of Economic Complexity is pretty awesome.

Most likely you don't have time to comb through the 300-odd pages, but that's okay – economists Ricardo Hausmann and Cesar Hidalgo have jacked up an online visualiser that's as vibrant and colourful as its print sibling (PDF).

What's it all about?

The data tell us where different countries rank in terms of productivity, based on the premise that their potential stems from productive knowledge. The atlas visualises the complexity of 128 counties, predicting expected GDP growth to 2020. New Zealand's projected GDP growth? 2.91 percent. Compare to Uganda, which is deemed to have the most expansion potential at 6.4 percent.

Meanwhile, the economic complexity index rates nations based on two things. "These are countries with productive structures that are able to hold vast amounts of productive knowledge, and that manufacture and export a large number of sophisticated goods."

Producing a variety of goods boosts' countries ECI scores as they then have the potential to create increasingly advanced products. On that front, Japan topped the table, followed by Germany and Switzerland (we ranked 55th in economic complexity).

Hausmann hopes governments and investors will take heed.

"The atlas allows a country to know what it could be doing that it’s not doing now, and it allows investors to develop cases that they would not have otherwise thought about."