This is going to be my last proper post for 2016. I’m going on my annual blog-holiday until the middle of January (although I may pop in from time to time with a new post if something really exciting happens). As always, I’ve scheduled a few things to post while I’m away. I’m especially proud of two infographics that I made – so keep an eye out for them. But the end of the year always comes with reflection. And most of my friends and fellow bloggers are mourning more than just the lack of progress in 2016 – we’re lamenting its reversal.

It’s been a tough year for anyone who is at all liberal or progressive:

  • The Far Right has risen everywhere.
  • There is Brexit and Trump and the growing hatred of migrants.
  • Many American states have become strangely obsessed with gender, bathrooms, and who gets to use which stall.
  • We’re also witnessing the use of Big Data in incredibly disturbing new ways. As it turns out, with just a brief survey of your facebook likes, algorithms know your personality better than your wife does. And this data is for sale. And Cambridge Analytica used this type of data processing to design hundreds of thousands of directly targetted ads for both the Brexit Leave campaign, and the Trump ticket. Nuff said.



In moments like these, we should remember the scale of human progress. We may have had a bad year, but we’ve had an incredible two centuries.


There was a time when most of us were poor. No longer:

World Poverty over time


There was a time when most of us were illiterate. No longer:

World Literacy over time

Infant Mortality

There was a time when many of us never made it past the age of 5. No longer:

Infant Mortality over time

Political Freedom

There was a time when many of us lived under deeply autocratic leaders, or were colonised. No longer:

World Political Regime Change


There was a time when many of us had little to no education. That is changing, quickly:

World Education Levels

So on the whole, we’re in a really good space.

The World as 100 People ~ over the last two centuries

Let me close with this awesome infographic from




And Happy Holidays 🙂

Rolling Alpha posts opinions on finance, economics, and sometimes things that are only loosely related. Follow me on Twitter @RollingAlpha, or like the Rolling Alpha page on Facebook at