2014 will be remembered as a year in which two nation-states faced the debate around city-regional configuration within their borders in very different ways. The United Kingdom witnessed a closely fought pro-union outcome in its Scottish independence referendum while, in Catalonia, despite a consultation process showing a huge majority declare their desire for independence, this outcome was not recognised by the Spanish government.
In an article for the “In Focus” section of Political Insight (April 2015, Volume 6, Issue 1) Igor Calzada and I looked at the rapidly changing balance of power between states and their regions.
The old tenant in the White House stays for another four years after Tuesday’s presidential election in the United States. By the time of writing, Obama has secured 303 of the electoral votes, while his opponent Romney could only secure 206. The 29 votes from Florida were still undecided, but showed a favour towards Obama. The number of votes in the electoral college which elects the president reflects very much the population distribution in the country, and according to the US voting system one state gives all its votes to the winning candidate in that state. Therefore the presidential election is often displayed on a map based on state-level results. What the conventional maps fail in though is a correct proportional view of the votes, giving the less densely populated space in the mid-west a lot more space in the map display compared to the densely populated east or also larger states such as Washington. The following state-level population cartogram corrects that perspective by resizing each of the US states according to its total population and colouring the state by the colour of the winning candidate in the 2012 presidential election (assuming Florida also goes to Obama as currently predicted):
(click for larger version)
New York is the host city to this year’s AAG Annual Meeting. For my plenary presentation at the Population Specialty Group session I therefore decided to add a little bit of a local touch to the talk by including a new map of New York City in the slides. Continue reading
Amid Europe’s debt crisis it remains less noticed that the largest mountain of debt in the world is piled up across the big pond in the United States of America. The topic will be critically debated in US politics as presidential elections are due in 2012. In an article for the “In Focus” section of Political Insight (December 2011, Volume 2, Issue 3) Danny Dorling and I took a closer look at the foreign liabilities of America’s debt.
The map we created for this feature is a cartogram with the world’s countries resized according to the total amount of US treasury securities that are held in each country (as shown in data from July 2011). This is a preview of the maps that we created for the article:
The financial crisis continues to make it into the headlines. Mountains of debt piled up by the world’s wealthiest nations (as shown in this map) stir up the financial markets and indicate that political measures since the early days of the economic meltdown in 2008 had little impact or simply were too meaningless to induce a real change into the mechanisms of the markets. The EU keeps struggling to calm investors over fears of yet another country going bust while on the other side of the pond the rating agencies start playing games with the world’s largest economy. As the NYT explains, The rating agency thinks the United States has too much debt, or at least will: “Under our revised base case fiscal scenario — which we consider to be consistent with a AA+ long-term rating and a negative outlook — we now project that net general government debt would rise from an estimated 74 percent of G.D.P. by the end of 2011 to 79 percent in 2015 and 85 percent by 2021.” (read more about credit agency ratings in the A ‘AAA’ Q. and A.). After some brief debates about credit agencies not long ago, these discussions seem to have disappeared again, and the old mechanisms of nervous investors and even more nervous decision makers, like it always did in the last three years.
At the same time an emerging super power starts to find its own political voice against its perhaps largest rival: After years of growing economic dominance, China seems to gain confidence in confronting the USA with bold statements. As the largest holder of US debt, they may start to worry with the investors’ decline in trust in America, causing China to warn America over its addiction to debt.
The current American debt levels did not come out of the blue, but have long started piling up, as a look at the development of US debt over the last decade shows: The total national debt of the United States is at $14.3 trillion this year, up from $5.8 trillion in 2001. Particularly interesting for the global markets is the external debt that the USA owes to foreign holders outside the country. Here George W. Bush took over approximately $1 trillion in foreign debt from the Clinton administration (Bill Clinton managed to induce a reduction in national debt levels in his second term). After a short period in which this downward trend continued, foreign US debt started to rise after September 2001, and Bush handed over more than $3 trillion of National debt to Barak Obama in 2009, with a considerable trend upwards since the financial crisis hit the nation in 2008. Only recently this upward trend started to level off slightly, and foreign debt is now just below $4.5 trillion. Besides China, as the largest single holder of foreign US debt, the liabilities are spread around the globe, with a considerable amount of debt being held by some of the other indebted economies such as the United Kingdom (as the country with the largest external debt of European countries). The following map shows the countries of the world resized according to the total amount of US treasury securities that are held in that country. It uses the most recent data published by the US Treasury:
(click for larger map)
A map showing the US midterm elections results is now featured in the “In Focus” section of Political Insight (April 2011, Volume 2, Issue 1). The accompanying article written by Charles Pattie, Danny Dorling and me looks at the implications of the election results.
Here are the bibliographic details:
- Pattie, C. Hennig, B. D. and Dorling, D. (2011). In Focus: US Midterm Elections 2010. Political Insight2 (1): 34.
Article online (Wiley)
More electoral maps can be found here.
The content on this page has been created by Benjamin D. Hennig. You are free use the material under Creative Commons conditions (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0); please contact me for further details. I also appreciate a message if you used my maps somewhere else. High resolution and customized maps are available on request.