Weekend reading/viewing. I got to this video by  Harvard Law scholar Elizabeth Warren via Twitter:
There are many "doom" videos and presentations out there at the moment, reinforcing the state of mind of the current economical crisis. This one stands out, and I sat through the entire 57 minutes (skipping the first introduction bits).
Elizabeth managed to make an exact like-for-like / inflation-adjusted comparison between the financial situation of families in the 1970s and the early 2000s. Her main conclusion: Americans haven't taken out all that credit to finance blind purchases of consumption goods such as cars, gadgets, holidays, etc. Some of the messages:
  • Per person income hasn't really increased over the past 30 years, women just started to enter the workforce, pushing household incomes up
  • Expenditure on items such as appliances, clothing, food (including restaurants) did not really go up
  • We did spend a lot more on housing ("parents are buying schools"), child care, healthcare, and college education
  • Risk has increased for the highly leveraged 2-kid family: illness, divorce, job loss
This blog is not about economics. But from a presentation perspective, this video is worth watching. The slides are strictly statistical, poorly formated, almost resembling a 1990s overhead sheet, the speaker does not move, still the story is truly captivating. Captivating because many, many people (me included) are looking for the answer to the issue Elizabeth is raising. We just want to stay until the end to find out.
Another example of why giving everything away on page one of your presentation is not always the right thing to do.
The video was recorded on 8 March 2007, added to YouTube on 31 January 2008, but very timely to watch in December 2008.