A JK Galbraith column at Mother Jones includes the following graph, with this caption: What a dollar of stimulus puts back into the economy when spent on…
There are two related ways in which this graph fails to serve its purpose. The first is that the colors fail to add any value. Alternating the rows is purely decorative, but doesn’t convey any information.
The second issue is that the break-even line is very ambiguous. It’s unclear which end of the T is the actual line (presumably the point above the $1.00 mark), and what purpose the balance of the T serves.
A quick re-drawing of the graph clarifies both of these issues.
The colors now indicate whether the net effect of the stimulus is positive or not. Additionally, the $1.00 line has been extended to the full hight of the gallery, giving an additional benchmark for the success of each program. The key message about negative returns has been moved close to the $1.00 line, with no callout line to confuse things.
Update: this third version addresses changes suggested by comments to this post.