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Visualizing a bond spike

I was listening to The Today Program on BBC Radio 4 this morning; John Humphries was speaking to Andrew Lilico who mentioned that the UK had managed to keep costs of government borrowing lower, avoiding a ‘bond spike’ as had been seen in Greece.

A bond ‘spike’ sounded scary and dramatic, so I thought I’d try to find out what one looked like on a chart. I grabbed some data from the European Central Bank (ECB) and plotted it using our line chart.

DATE Germany Greece United Kingdom
JAN-2001 4.8 5.35 4.94
FEB-2001 4.78 5.35 4.95
MAR-2001 4.67 5.28 4.82
APR-2001 4.83 5.39 5.03
MAY-2001 5.05 5.54 5.21
JUN-2001 5 5.48 5.3
JUL-2001 5.02 5.51 5.3
AUG-2001 4.82 5.33 5.07
SEP-2001 4.81 5.31 5.02
OCT-2001 4.6 5.07 4.86
NOV-2001 4.45 4.9 4.67
DEC-2001 4.74 5.13 4.94
JAN-2002 4.86 5.24 5.02
FEB-2002 4.92 5.31 5.04
MAR-2002 5.16 5.5 5.34
APR-2002 5.15 5.51 5.33
MAY-2002 5.17 5.52 5.35
JUN-2002 5.02 5.37 5.19
JUL-2002 4.87 5.21 5.02
AUG-2002 4.59 4.95 4.67
SEP-2002 4.38 4.73 4.45
OCT-2002 4.46 4.79 4.53
NOV-2002 4.48 4.76 4.55
DEC-2002 4.33 4.58 4.49
JAN-2003 4.18 4.43 4.31
FEB-2003 3.95 4.24 4.29
MAR-2003 4 4.26 4.41
APR-2003 4.15 4.38 4.56
MAY-2003 3.82 4.02 4.31
JUN-2003 3.62 3.81 4.19
JUL-2003 3.97 4.12 4.47
AUG-2003 4.13 4.29 4.64
SEP-2003 4.17 4.32 4.76
OCT-2003 4.22 4.38 4.96
NOV-2003 4.35 4.51 5.1
DEC-2003 4.29 4.45 4.94
JAN-2004 4.17 4.37 4.84
FEB-2004 4.11 4.35 4.88
MAR-2004 3.91 4.17 4.76
APR-2004 4.1 4.35 4.99
MAY-2004 4.25 4.49 5.15
JUN-2004 4.31 4.55 5.24
JUL-2004 4.24 4.44 5.14
AUG-2004 4.08 4.28 5.03
SEP-2004 4.02 4.22 4.95
OCT-2004 3.89 4.11 4.81
NOV-2004 3.78 3.97 4.74
DEC-2004 3.58 3.77 4.58
JAN-2005 3.56 3.69 4.6
FEB-2005 3.54 3.69 4.66
MAR-2005 3.7 3.92 4.87
APR-2005 3.48 3.76 4.67
MAY-2005 3.3 3.6 4.45
JUN-2005 3.13 3.44 4.31
JUL-2005 3.2 3.46 4.31
AUG-2005 3.23 3.47 4.34
SEP-2005 3.07 3.3 4.25
OCT-2005 3.24 3.45 4.4
NOV-2005 3.45 3.67 4.37
DEC-2005 3.34 3.57 4.27
JAN-2006 3.32 3.6 3.97
FEB-2006 3.47 3.77 4.05
MAR-2006 3.64 3.95 4.19
APR-2006 3.89 4.23 4.37
MAY-2006 3.96 4.3 4.49
JUN-2006 3.96 4.31 4.5
JUL-2006 4.01 4.33 4.49
AUG-2006 3.88 4.19 4.49
SEP-2006 3.75 4.06 4.44
OCT-2006 3.79 4.08 4.51
NOV-2006 3.71 3.98 4.45
DEC-2006 3.77 4.04 4.54
JAN-2007 4.02 4.28 4.94
FEB-2007 4.05 4.3 4.97
MAR-2007 3.94 4.2 4.88
APR-2007 4.15 4.4 5.11
MAY-2007 4.28 4.51 5.2
JUN-2007 4.56 4.8 5.49
JUL-2007 4.5 4.79 5.46
AUG-2007 4.3 4.62 5.19
SEP-2007 4.22 4.56 5.05
OCT-2007 4.28 4.58 5
NOV-2007 4.09 4.43 4.74
DEC-2007 4.21 4.53 4.7
JAN-2008 4.03 4.4 4.26
FEB-2008 3.95 4.36 4.45
MAR-2008 3.8 4.42 4.42
APR-2008 4.04 4.54 4.62
MAY-2008 4.2 4.74 4.84
JUN-2008 4.52 5.17 5.16
JUL-2008 4.49 5.15 5
AUG-2008 4.2 4.87 4.68
SEP-2008 4.09 4.88 4.57
OCT-2008 3.88 4.93 4.52
NOV-2008 3.56 5.09 4.13
DEC-2008 3.05 5.08 3.36
JAN-2009 3.07 5.6 3.17
FEB-2009 3.13 5.7 3.23
MAR-2009 3.02 5.87 3
APR-2009 3.13 5.5 3.16
MAY-2009 3.37 5.22 3.41
JUN-2009 3.47 5.33 3.52
JUL-2009 3.34 4.89 3.55
AUG-2009 3.31 4.52 3.45
SEP-2009 3.26 4.56 3.42
OCT-2009 3.21 4.57 3.34
NOV-2009 3.22 4.84 3.46
DEC-2009 3.14 5.49 3.6
JAN-2010 3.26 6.02 4.01
FEB-2010 3.17 6.46 4.02
MAR-2010 3.1 6.24 3.98
APR-2010 3.06 7.83 3.96
MAY-2010 2.73 7.97 3.6
JUN-2010 2.54 9.1 3.14
JUL-2010 2.62 10.34 2.97
AUG-2010 2.35 10.7 2.68
SEP-2010 2.3 11.34 2.84
OCT-2010 2.35 9.57 2.8
NOV-2010 2.53 11.52 3.03
DEC-2010 2.91 12.01 3.34
JAN-2011 3.02 11.73 3.61
FEB-2011 3.2 11.4 3.77
MAR-2011 3.21 12.44 3.54
APR-2011 3.34 13.86 3.56
MAY-2011 3.06 15.94 3.26
JUN-2011 2.89 16.69 3.12
JUL-2011 2.74 16.15 2.98
AUG-2011 2.21 15.9 2.4
SEP-2011 1.83 17.78 2.18
OCT-2011 2 18.04 2.24
NOV-2011 1.87 17.92 1.96
DEC-2011 1.93 21.14 1.81
JAN-2012 1.82 25.91 2.04
FEB-2012 1.85 29.24 2.13
MAR-2012 1.83 19.07 2.17
APR-2012 1.62 21.48 2.03
MAY-2012 1.34 26.9 1.78
JUN-2012 1.3 27.82 1.6
JUL-2012 1.24 25.82 1.47
AUG-2012 1.34 24.34 1.49
SEP-2012 1.49 20.91 1.53
OCT-2012 1.47 17.96 1.54
NOV-2012 1.34 17.2 1.55
DEC-2012 1.3 13.33 1.6
JAN-2013 1.51 11.1 1.82
FEB-2013 1.54 10.95 1.92
MAR-2013 1.35 11.38 1.65
APR-2013 1.2 11.58 1.46
MAY-2013 1.29 9.07 1.62
JUN-2013 1.53 10.07 1.96
JUL-2013 1.56 10.53 2.09
AUG-2013 1.73 10.01 2.29
SEP-2013 1.89 10.15 2.44
OCT-2013 1.76 8.74 2.26
NOV-2013 1.68 8.41 2.31
DEC-2013 1.8 8.66 2.5
JAN-2014 1.76 8.18 2.48
FEB-2014 1.56 7.7 2.37
MAR-2014 1.51 6.9 2.34
APR-2014 1.46 6.2 2.3
MAY-2014 1.33 6.38 2.27
JUN-2014 1.26 5.93 2.35
JUL-2014 1.11 6.1 2.31
AUG-2014 0.95 6.09 2.12
SEP-2014 0.92 5.89 2.08
OCT-2014 0.79 7.26 1.82
NOV-2014 0.72 8.1 1.72
DEC-2014 0.59 8.42 1.52
JAN-2015 0.39 9.48 1.21

If a bond spike sounded scary on the radio, it looked even more scary when drawn on my screen!

I think this makes a pretty good example of where use of a visualization makes more sense than showing a long list of numbers. Trying to digest the data in tabular format was rather difficult: I had been trying to compare interest rates for three different countries while also attempting to see how each country’s rate changes over time.

Here’s how I created the chart:

  1. Downloaded some statistics as a CSV file from the ECB
  2. Isolated the date column as well as the columns for Germany, Greece and the United Kingdom
  3. Converted my chosen columns into an HTML table
  4. Added the Factmint link and script tags beneath the table closing tag:
    
    
  5. Declared a class of “fm-line” in my table tag to allow the chart to render
  6. Configured the date format for the chart to match my data (MMM/YYYY) using the data-fm-date-format attribute
  7. Added a percentage symbol suffix to my data values using the data-fm-value-suffix attribute
  8. Placed a Y-axis label on the chart using the data-fm-y-label attribute

Have a play:

You can find the full documentation for our line chart plugin along with the rest of our docs. If you’d like to render a line chart on your own site, please sign up for Factmint Charts.

See the Pen German, UK and Greek long term bond interest rates by Alex (@alex-parkes) on CodePen.