A lot has changed in the quarter century-plus since Ronald Reagan became president. As Billy Joel reminisced on the early 1980s: "Begin, Reagan, Palestine; Terror on the airlines; Ayatollahs in Iran, Russia's in Afghanistan," all the way up to the 2000s with, say: "Tax cuts, oil gluts, terror by religious nuts; Enron, Hadron and Katrina, Iraq, Iran, Brangelina..." But how do we explain this?


A truly brilliant interactive feature at the Council on Foreign Relations breaks down the financial crisis in various chapters of graphs, facts and expert analysis. One motion chart allows you to look at how world economies compare to each other between 1981 and 2007. Does anybody else find this surprising?

world1981.png
That's a graph of each countries' percentage share of world GDP from 1981. And this is from 2007.s
world2007.png
To be sure, some things change very much. Most significantly China emerges as a top world economy, while France and Germany's shares of world GDP dip and Japan creeps ever so slightly ahead. But mostly I found the graphs surprising for their relative sameness. One could recount other significant economic and political developments over the last 26 years that should have shaken up the map more (although I think we've had quite enough rhyming for one blog post) but do the graphs' similarities surprise anybody else?

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