The following Excel figure displays its charts in a dashboard-like format. At least, it’s in a format that dashboards should use!
When you use simple charts like this, your managers can read and understand them quickly. They can compare trends. They can remember the patterns.
This is exactly how most managers prefer to see their data! Simply because you CAN use dozens of other chart types in your dashboards doesn’t mean you should.
And what managers also want to see are fast-updating reports. As always, I updated this report in about five seconds, without using VBA.
This figure compares consumer confidence for three major trading areas. Two of the charts show data through May 2020. As you can see, consumer confidence fell like a rock in April and May—because of Covid-19, of course.
And when the data for the Major 5 Asian countries—China, India, Indonesia, Japan, and South Korea—finally does arrive, it probably will show the same pattern. In May, for example, consumer confidence was at a record low for both Japan and South Korea .
So why do these measures matter?
When we’re looking for early signs of international downturns and upturns, which can affect our own economy, we’d like to find indicators that are frequent, timely, and reliable. The OECD’s measure of consumer confidence is generally among the best of these.
The survey has a monthly frequency, not quarterly. Most data is available within about three weeks after the end of the month, which is unusually timely.
To illustrate, I’m writing this on June 19, and data for May is available for 30 of the 43 countries and groups of countries that the OECD tracks. Among those 30 timely countries are the US and UK, Australia, Japan, Brazil, Germany, France, South Korea, and the Scandinavian countries.
And consumer confidence tends to be a leading or coincident indicator of the health of a country’s economy.
That’s true, of course, when recessions develop over months, as they normally do. But when the economy falls suddenly, as with Covid-19, consumer confidence necessarily trails the downturn.