Finding art in the numbers

Tracking trends in economics and finance means running your finger across charts. Lots of them. Finding those eureka moments in the timing of spikes and troughs can be a useful practice. But studying even the most telling data can be a little dull to the casual user.

OK, it can be numbingly dull.

Some of the most creative moments in the preparation of the Work & Money section occur during the collaborative sessions at which Monitor staffers discuss (and debate) illustration concepts for the Mutual Fund Quarterlies. Not only are these sections packed with performance numbers for the three-month period just ended, but they also try to provide investors with some guidance for the next quarter - and to depict the current mood of the market with a single, provocative image. That's the fun part.

At year's end, and with conceptualizing for the Jan. 13 quarterly well under way, we thought we might look back at these depictions, see how we fared in that predictive role (the red line represents the Standard & Poor's 500 index), and celebrate the talents of the artists who've illustrated some of our favorite pages.

See full HTML version for graphics.

- The Editors

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