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Chart of the Week

The Decline of Coal in Three Charts

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The Decline of Coal in Three Charts

The Decline of Coal in Three Charts

How coal went from hero to zero in just five short years.

The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.

There was a time in the not so distant past that coal was the unquestioned all-star of the energy mix.

Just over a decade ago, coal-fired power generated more than 50% of U.S. electricity. Coal is cheap and found almost everywhere, but it’s also extremely easy to scale with. If you need more power, just burn more coal.

However, the decline of coal has been swift and unprecedented. That’s why it is expected that by 2020, only 22% of electricity will be generated from the fossil fuel.

What’s Behind the Decline of Coal?

While there is obvious environmental pressure on miners and utilities in the coal business, the number one coal killer is an unlikely source: hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling.

These two technologies have led to a natural gas supply boom, making the United States the top natural gas producer in the world. From 2005 to 2010, natural gas mostly traded in a range between $5-10 per mcf. Today, excess supply has brought it to a range between $2-3 per mcf, making it extremely desirable for utilities.

This year, for the first time ever, natural gas has surpassed coal in use for power generation in the United States. The EIA expects natural gas and coal to make up 33% and 32% respectively in the energy mix for 2016.

How the Mighty Have Fallen

Not surprisingly, shrinking demand has led to a collapse in coal prices.

The decrease in revenues have slashed margins, and now equity in some of the biggest coal miners in the world is almost worthless. Similar to some oil and gas companies, many coal miners accumulated major debt loads when prices were high and demand seemed sustainable.

Now major US coal miners such as Peabody Energy and ArchCoal have been obliterated:

 201120142016
Total$44.6 billion$10.6 billion$0.045 billion
Peabody$19.7 billion$7 billion$0.030 billion
Arch Coal$6.0 billion$1 billion$0.006 billion
Alpha Natural$10.7 billion$1.6 billion$0.003 billion
Walter Energy$8.2 billion$1 billion$0.006 billion

The top four miners have lost over $44 billion in market capitalization from their recent peaks in 2011.

That’s an astonishing 99.9% decrease in value, and possibly exemplifies the decline of coal better than anything else.

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Chart of the Week

The Best and Worst Performing Wealth Markets in the Last 10 Years

This telling chart shows how national wealth markets have changed over the past decade, highlighting the biggest winners and losers.

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The Best and Worst Performing Wealth Markets

A lot can change in a decade.

Ten years ago, the collapse of Lehman Brothers sent the world’s financial markets into a tailspin, a catalyst for years of economic uncertainty.

At the same time, China’s robust GDP growth was reaching a fever pitch. The country was turning into a wealth creation machine, creating millions of newly-minted millionaires who would end up having a huge impact on wealth markets around the world.

The Ups and Downs of Wealth Markets (2008-2018)

Today’s graphic, using data from the Global Wealth Migration Review, looks at national wealth markets, and how they’ve changed since 2008.

Each wealth market is calculated from the sum of individual assets within the jurisdiction, accounting for the value of cash, property, equity, and business interests owned by people in the country. Just like other kinds of markets, wealth can grow or shrink over time.

Here are a few countries and regions that stand out in the report:

Developing Asian Economies
In terms of sheer wealth growth, nothing comes close to countries like China and India. The size of these markets, combined with rapid economic growth, have resulted in triple-digit gains over the last 10 years.

For the world’s two most populous countries, it’s a trend that is expected to continue into the next decade, despite the fact that many millionaire residents are migrating to different jurisdictions.

Mediterranean Malaise
European nations saw very little growth over the past decade, but the Mediterranean region was particularly hard-hit. In fact, eight of the 20 worst performing wealth markets over the last decade are located along the Mediterranean coast:

Rank (Out of 90)Country% Growth (2008-2018)
89๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ท Greece-37%
87๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡พ Cyprus-21%
86๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น Italy-14%
85๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ Spain-13%
84๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ท Turkey-11%
82๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ฌ Egypt-10%
80๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France-7%
76๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ท Croatia-6%

European Bright Spots
There were some bright spots in Europe during this same time period. Malta, Ireland, and Monaco all achieved positive wealth growth at rates higher than 30% over the last 10 years.

Australia
While it’s expected to see rapidly-growing economies as prolific producers of wealth, it is much more surprising when mature markets perform so strongly. Singapore and New Zealand fall under that category, as does Australia, which was already a large, mature wealth market.

Australia recently surpassed both Canada and France to become the seventh largest wealth market in the world, and last year alone, over 12,000 millionaires migrated there.

Venezuela
The long-term economic slide of Venezuela has been well documented, and it comes as no surprise that the country saw extreme contraction of wealth over the last decade. Since war-torn countries are not included in the report, Venezuela ranked 90th, which is dead-last on a global basis.

Short Term, Long Term

In 2018, global wealth actually slumped by 5%, dropping from $215 trillion to $204 trillion.

All 90 countries tracked by the report experienced negative growth in wealth, as global stock and property markets dipped. Here’s a look at the wealth markets that were the hardest hit over the past year:

Wealth MarketWealth growth (2017 -2018)
๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡ช Venezuela-25%
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ท Turkey-23%
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ท Argentina-20%
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฐ Pakistan-15%
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ด Angola-15%
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Ukraine-13%
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France-12%
๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ Russia-12%
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ท Iran-12%
๐Ÿ‡ถ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Qatar-12%

The future outlook is rosier. Global wealth is expected to rise by 43% over the next decade, reaching $291 trillion by 2028. If current trends play out as expected, Vietnam could likely top this list a decade from now with a staggering 200% growth rate.

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Chart of the Week

Mapping the World’s Busiest Air Routes

Flying can get you almost anywhere, but often people are journeying between two popular destinations. Here we map the busiest air routes globally.

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Mapping the World’s Busiest Air Routes

Modern air travel gives us almost unlimited possibilities for getting around.

Whether you are acting on your wanderlust to explore new and exotic destinations, hopping to a familiar island for a well-deserved vacation, or jetsetting to London in the comfort of business class, the modern airline industry can get you almost anywhere you need to go.

But while flying allows us to have unique experiences, it’s often the case that we are all coming and going from many of the same popular destinations. As a result, the world’s busiest air routes have hundreds of flights per day connecting important city pairs together.

Ranking City Pairs

Today’s chart pulls data from OAG, which has compiled a detailed report ranking the busiest domestic and international air routes from around the globe.

It’s worth noting that the data is over the period of March 2018 to February 2019, and it excludes carriers that operate fewer than 500 routes per year.

Let’s dive in to see which city pairs have the most air travel between them.

Domestic Routes

Domestic routes are far more popular than international routes globally. According to the report, there are 15 domestic routes that have more operating flights per year than any international route anywhere.

Here’s a look at the top 10 domestic routes:

RankCountryCity PairFlights (Annually)Carriers
#1๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ทJeju โ†”๏ธ Seoul79,4607
#2๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บMelbourne โ†”๏ธ Sydney54,1024
#3๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณMumbai โ†”๏ธ Delhi45,1886
#4๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ทSรฃo Paulo โ†”๏ธ Rio de Janeiro39,7473
#5๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ตFukuoka โ†”๏ธ Toyko39,4064
#6๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡ณHanoi โ†”๏ธ Ho Chi Minh City39,2913
#7๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ตHokkaido โ†”๏ธ Tokyo39,2714
#8๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฉJakarta โ†”๏ธ Surabaya City37,7626
#9๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธLos Angeles โ†”๏ธ San Francisco35,3655
#10๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฆJeddah โ†”๏ธ Riyadh35,1495

The busiest domestic route might be a surprise, unless you are familiar with Asian geography.

With almost 80,000 annual flights, the 300-mile hop between Seoul and Jeju Island in South Korea is the busiest air route in the world by a large margin. Overall, there are seven carriers competing on it each day, with over 200 daily flights available between them.

What makes Jeju so popular?

Known as the “Hawaii of South Korea”, this volcanic island is an extremely popular vacation destination within the country, and it hosts roughly 15 million guests per year.

International Routes

On an international basis, the busiest route has almost 50,000 fewer flights per year than the Jeju-Seoul city pair listed above. Not surprisingly, this route – and many other top international routes – are also located in the Asia Pacific region.

RankCountriesCity PairFlights (Annually)Carriers
#1๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡พ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฌKuala Lumpur โ†”๏ธ Singapore30,1878
#2๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ผHong Kong โ†”๏ธ Taipei28,4475
#3๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฌJakarta โ†”๏ธ Singapore27,0467
#4๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณHong Kong โ†”๏ธ Shanghai20,6785
#5๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡พJakarta โ†”๏ธ Kuala Lumpur19,7418
#6๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ตSeoul โ†”๏ธ Osaka19,7118
#7๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆNew York (LGA) โ†”๏ธ Toronto17,0383
#8๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ทHong Kong โ†”๏ธ Seoul15,7709
#9๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฌBangkok โ†”๏ธ Singapore14,6985
#10๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ผDubai โ†”๏ธ Kuwait14,5814

The short hop between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur takes only one hour, and it connects two major Southeast Asian commercial hubs. The route has 41 flights per day between eight airlines, making it one of the most competitive routes globally.

The busiest international route outside of the Asia Pacific is between Toronto and New York (LaGuardia) with 17,038 annual flights. Interestingly, it only has three competing carriers – the lowest of any of the top 10 routes.

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