Pocket World in Figures 2010 by The Economist
|Pocket World in Figures 2010 by The Economist|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: An essential tool for the professional who needs reliable, verifiable figures at his fingertips. Highly recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 256||Date: September 2009|
|Publisher: Economist Books|
It's just about a year since I reviewed Pocket World in Figures 2009 and at the time – September 2008 – we were watching in horror as the world financial crisis unfolded before our eyes. Looking back now the surprise is that for most people what happened came out of the blue. The clues were plain to see and all here in this handy little book. There was the worrying state of the Iceland economy and different levels of mortgage lending in various parts of the world. Best of all it was presented as verified figures, without any accompanying narrative and it's consequently free of political spin. Bliss.
The statistical information is presented in a clear and user-friendly way and with plenty of relevant comparisons. It kicks off with the natural facts – figures which don't change from one year to the next – the largest mountains, islands, deserts and lakes and the longest rivers. Did you know that Russia is nearly twice the size of the USA? That surprised me. The figures are useful but what is more interesting are the figures which relate to people and the way that they live.
Back in 2007 it was the standard of living that interested me. The figures about quality of life are all there along with all the figures which tell you about the essence of a country. The highest gross domestic product per head is in Luxemburg – and the lowest in Burundi, with a shaming gap between the two. Which country do you think produces the highest number of refugees? You probably won't be that surprised to find that it's Afghanistan – by a large margin – but which country do you think has the largest refugee population? It's Pakistan – once again – by a wide margin, with the UK down at number eight with about a sixth of the number of refugees and the USA at number ten with a smaller refugee population that Chad.
Last year inflation was running at an eye-watering 24,411% in Zimbabwe. Good news – it hasn't gone up! There has, though been an improvement in Congo-Kinshasa which was worrying at 21.3% last year – it's now down to 16.9% and let's hope that the improvement continues. The lowest rate of inflation is in Papua New Guinea at 0.9%.
My favourite stat is the Big Mac Index, which looks at the price of a Big Mac in various parts of the world. It might sound rather quirky but it is, in fact, a good indicator of which currencies are most under- and over-valued. Last year (surprise, surprise) the highest figure was in Iceland and the lowest in China. This year Iceland has dropped off the leader board and the most over-valued currency would seem to be Norway, followed by Switzerland, Denmark and Sweden. The most under-valued currency is Malaysian with China coming in at number seven.
I could sit here all day quoting interesting figures to you. Every page has something to make you think, with a double page spread dedicated to most countries as well as the other indexes which we've mentioned. It's wonderful background for the professional person visiting or dealing with a county. No briefcase should be without a copy.
I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
You can read more book reviews or buy Pocket World in Figures 2010 by The Economist at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Pocket World in Figures 2010 by The Economist at Amazon.com.
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