At the Intersection of Data Visualization and Investment Research

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Histogram Jam
This is the second of three "New Year's resolution" posts, where I play catch up with my other Morningstar Magazine articles in 2015.

No designer is credited, but in early 2015 I spotted a great graphic in this Washington Post story on presidential approval ratings. It used Gallup polling data to create a series of histograms for the changing approval rates of each U.S. president going back to the Nixon administration. The beauty of the approach is that it allows for side-by-side depictions of the distributions of multiple data sets, something that's difficult to do with a traditional histogram chart.

I thought the idea would be useful for investment performance and, working with designer Zach Sherwood, applied it to Ben Johnson's research on the active/passive debate in the August/September issue of Morningstar Magazine. Here you can see the distribution of under- or outperformance of passive benchmark by actively-managed mutual funds in nine different categories:

active passive histograms

Click through to the magazine to see the full article. You can also download a PDF of the entire issue.

Throughout my career at Morningstar, the Chicago-based investment research firm, I've used creative language and visual elements to explain complex investment information and ideas. This is a personal site--all opinions expressed here are my own.

Contact David Harrell
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