Friday, July 30, 2010

Heroic Infographics

Two infographics that caught my eye this week as I wandered through the Interweb:

Red pie chart showing that 96% of the money spent by the US on Iraq reconstruction cannot be accounted for
From the Good Blog comes this sad version of Pac-Man, titled Where Did the Money to Rebuild Iraq Go? Good's source is a report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

This big bunch of red doesn't completely surprise me -- since I heard long ago (on a Bill Moyers program) that the Pentagon hasn't been audited in ages, and is, in fact, unauditable -- but I still can't help shaking my head.

Infographic explaining how Glenn Beck and Goldline work
This is just part of a much longer infographic from designer Jess Bachman. What did I learn from it?

After Glenn Beck uses his show to whip people into an economic panic, he offers what appears to be a chance of security -- buy gold! That's a slimy act, but if the gold offered were a relatively good deal (I say relatively because you're buying it when everyone else is, so of course it won't be an actual good deal) then there wouldn't be much to write about it.

But this gold is not a good deal in any sense of the word. Beck's chosen partner, Goldline, doesn't sell the types of coins that are considered the safest investment, which is bullion that was created as a medium for gold investors, particularly the Kruggerand, Canadian Gold Maple Leaf, or American Gold Eagle. Instead, Goldline sells antique gold coins, which may (or may not) have additional value as collectibles.

So people who buy gold through Goldline end up paying more for their gold than the value of the gold in the coins. As Bachman's infographic says, "Goldline is taking would-be gold investors and turning them into coin collectors without their knowledge." If the economic apocalypse these investors fear were to come to pass, the added "collector" value of their coins -- which they paid a premium for -- is unlikely to still exist.

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