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Helium: A Valuable Gas Not To Be Taken Lightly

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Helium makes up 25% of the atoms in the known universe, so one would guess that the inert gas would be quite plentiful on Earth.

Unfortunately, a familiar property of helium prevents this from happening. Helium gas is lighter than air and literally rises into space, depleting the Earth of almost all valuable helium resources over time.

Where do we get helium?

So how do we actually obtain new helium gas, which is necessary for important technological applications such as MRI machines, superconductors, and even the Large Hadron Collider?

Today’s infographic from Helium One shows everything you need to know on helium, including where we can find it on Earth, as well as the most important uses of the gas.

Helium: A Valuable Gas Not To Be Taken Lightly

Although helium is plentiful in the universe, on Earth it is quite rare and difficult to obtain.

Why Do We Need Helium?

Helium has several properties that make it invaluable to modern humans, particularly for technological uses:

Helium PropertyBenefits
InertDoesn’t react with other elements, and doesn’t explode like hydrogen
Non-toxicCan be used by humans in a variety of applications
Lighter than airAbility to lift and/or float
Melting point -272˚CLiquid at ultra-cool temps enables superconductivity
Small molecular sizeCan be used to find the smallest of leaks

Helium Demand

Helium demand has risen consistently since 2009, and the market has been increasing at a CAGR of 10.1% since 2010. With that in mind, here are the specific constituents of helium demand today:

Helium UseGlobal ShareDescription
Cryogenics23%Superconductors use ultracooled helium liquid.
Lifting15%Used in airships and balloons
Electronics14%Used to manufacture silicon wafers
Optical Fiber11%Necessary to make optical fiber cables
Welding9%Used as a shielding gas for welding
Leak Detection6%Helium particles are small, and can find the tiniest leaks
Analytics6%Used in chromatography and other applications
Pressure & Purging5%Used in rocket systems
Diving3%Mixed into commercial diving tanks for various reasons
Other8%Helium's diverse properties give it many other minor uses

Helium’s melting point, which is the lowest found in nature, allows it to remain as a liquid at the coolest possible temperature. This makes helium ideal for uses in superconductors, including MRI machines – one of the fastest growing components of helium demand.

Helium Supply

But where do we obtain this elusive gas?

It turns out that new helium is actually created every day in very tiny amounts within the Earth’s crust as a by-product of radioactive decay. And like other gases below the Earth’s surface (i.e. natural gas), helium gets trapped in geological formations in economical amounts.

Today, much of helium is either produced as a by-product of natural gas deposits, or from helium-primary gas deposits with concentrations up to 7% He.

Here’s helium production by country:

Country2016 production (in billion cubic feet)Share
Total5.4100%
USA2.241%
USA (from Cliffside Field)0.814%
Algeria0.46%
Australia0.13%
Poland0.11%
Qatar1.832%
Russia0.12%

USA (from Cliffside Field)
The USA government has a helium stockpile at the Cliffside Field in Texas, developed as part of a WWI initiative. It is in the process of being phased out, and by as late as 2021 it will no longer contribute to supply.

Qatar
In December 2013, the Qatar Helium 2 project was opened. This new facility combined with the first helium project makes the country the 2nd largest source of helium globally.

Russia
Russia is looking to become a player in helium as well. Gazprom’s Amur LNG project will be one of the biggest gas facilities in the world, and it will include a helium processing plant. This won’t be online until 2024, though.

Tanzania
Though not a helium player yet, scientists have recently uncovered a major helium find in the Rift Valley of Tanzania which contains an estimated 99 billion cubic feet of gas.

The Future of the Helium Market?

Because of inflated demand, especially for cryogenics in MRI machines, helium prices have risen significantly over the years.

And with these market dynamics in mind, it’s clear that the future of helium is not full of hot air.

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Animation: The 20 Largest State Economies by GDP in the Last 50 Years

This animation shows how the largest state economies by GDP have changed over the last five decades of time, and what such a ranking looks like today.

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Animation: The 20 Largest State Economies by GDP

When it comes to understanding the size and scope of the $18 trillion U.S. economy, it’s sometimes easier to consider that it’s the sum of many parts.

Many states already have economies that are comparable to some of the world’s largest countries, giving you a sense of what they might be combined.

And while every state plays a role in the bigger picture, some states such as New York and California have an outsized impact on fueling the country’s overall economic engine.

The State of State Economies

Today’s animation comes to us from SavingSpot, and it covers the size of state economies by GDP going back all the way to 1963.

The video uses inflation-adjusted data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, showing how the ranking of top state economies has changed over time as different states have taken advantage of economic booms.

Let’s dive into the data to see how things have changed.

Going Back in Time

The earliest data in the animation comes from 1963, when New York led the pack with a $70.6 billion economy in inflation-adjusted terms.

State Economies by GDP, Inflation-Adjusted Chained $USD (1963)

RankState EconomyGDP, Billions of USD (1963)Share of U.S. Economy
🇺🇸 United States (Total)$607.0100.0%
#1New York$70.611.6%
#2California$67.811.2%
#3Illinois$39.56.5%
#4Pennsylvania$34.55.7%
#5Ohio$33.35.5%
#6Michigan$30.55.0%
#7Texas$29.34.8%
#8New Jersey$23.43.9%
#9Massachusetts$17.42.9%
#10Indiana$15.62.6%
#11Florida$14.72.4%
#12Missouri$13.62.2%
#13Wisconsin$12.72.1%
#14North Carolina$12.62.1%
#15Virginia$11.71.9%
#16Washington$11.21.8%
#17Minnesota$10.71.8%
#18Georgia$10.31.7%
#19Maryland$10.31.7%
#20Connecticut$9.91.6%
#21Louisiana$9.71.6%
#22Tennessee$9.11.5%
#23Kentucky$8.41.4%
#24Iowa$7.91.3%
#25Alabama$7.31.2%
#26Oklahoma$6.21.0%
#27Kansas$6.11.0%
#28Colorado$5.91.0%
#29Oregon$5.70.9%
#30District of Columbia$5.10.8%
#31South Carolina$5.10.8%
#32West Virginia$4.60.8%
#33Arizona$4.50.7%
#34Mississippi$4.40.7%
#35Nebraska$4.30.7%
#36Arkansas$3.80.6%
#37New Mexico$3.00.5%
#38Utah$3.00.5%
#39Rhode Island$2.70.4%
#40Maine$2.40.4%
#41Hawaii$2.40.4%
#42Montana$2.00.3%
#43Delaware$1.90.3%
#44Idaho$1.80.3%
#45Nevada$1.80.3%
#46New Hampshire$1.70.3%
#47North Dakota$1.60.3%
#48South Dakota$1.60.3%
#49Wyoming$1.40.2%
#50Alaska$1.10.2%
#51Vermont$1.00.2%

California ($67.8 billion), Illinois ($39.5 billion), Pennsylvania ($34.5 billion) and Ohio ($33.3 billion) round out the top five, and together they added up to 40.5% of the national GDP.

The Largest State Economies by GDP Today

Looking at the most recent data from 2017, you can see the ranking changes significantly:

State Economies by GDP, Inflation-Adjusted Chained $USD (2017)

RankState EconomyGDP, Billions of USD (2017)Share of U.S. Economy
🇺🇸 United States (Total)$18,051100%
#1California$2,57614.3%
#2Texas$1,6169.0%
#3New York$1,4147.8%
#4Florida$8834.9%
#5Illinois$7454.1%
#6Pennsylvania$7013.9%
#7Ohio$5913.3%
#8New Jersey$5473.0%
#9Georgia$5112.8%
#10Michigan$4592.5%
#11North Carolina$4842.7%
#12Virginia$4642.6%
#13Massachusetts$4902.7%
#14Washington$4812.7%
#15Maryland$3632.0%
#16Indiana$3211.8%
#17Arizona$2971.6%
#18Minnesota$3221.8%
#19Tennessee$3151.7%
#20Wisconsin$2921.6%
#21Colorado$3231.8%
#22Missouri$2761.5%
#23Connecticut$2391.3%
#24Louisiana$2271.3%
#25Alabama$1931.1%
#26South Carolina$1991.1%
#27Kentucky$1851.0%
#28Oregon$2081.2%
#29Oklahoma$1911.1%
#30Iowa$1690.9%
#31Nevada$1430.8%
#32Kansas$1480.8%
#33Utah$1500.8%
#34Arkansas$1140.6%
#35District of Columbia$1220.7%
#36Mississippi$1000.6%
#37Nebraska$1110.6%
#38New Mexico$910.5%
#39Hawaii$790.4%
#40West Virginia$710.4%
#41New Hampshire$740.4%
#42Delaware$640.4%
#43Idaho$670.4%
#44Maine$560.3%
#45Rhode Island$530.3%
#46Alaska$520.3%
#47Montana$440.2%
#48Wyoming$390.2%
#49South Dakota$450.3%
#50North Dakota$510.3%
#51Vermont$300.2%

California is the largest economy today – it has a state GDP of $2.6 trillion, which is comparable to the United Kingdom.

Meanwhile, Florida and Georgia are two states that did not crack the top 10 back in the 1960s, while Texas jumped up to become the second largest state economy. It’s actually not a coincidence that all of these states are in the southern half of the country, as air conditioning has played a surprisingly pivotal role in shaping modern America.

In fact, the share of the nation’s population living in the Sunbelt rose from 28% in 1950 to 40% in 2000, and this increase in population has coincided with economic growth in many of the states that used to be a sweaty mess.

A Final Look

Here is a final animated version of the top 10 largest states by GDP, also provided by SavingSpot:

Animation: The 20 Largest State Economies by GDP in the Last 50 Years

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Where the World’s Banks Make the Most Money

Last year, the global banking industry cashed in an impressive $1.36 trillion in profits. Here’s where they made their money, and how it breaks down.

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Where the World’s Banks Make the Most Money

Profits in banking have been steadily on the rise since the financial crisis.

Just last year, the global banking industry cashed in an impressive $1.36 trillion in after-tax profits ⁠— the highest total in the sector seen in the last 20 years.

What are the drivers behind revenue and profits in the financial services sector, and where do the biggest opportunities exist in the future?

Following the Money

Today’s infographic comes to us from McKinsey & Company, and it leverages proprietary insights from their Panorama database.

Using data stemming from more than 60 countries, we’ve broken down historical banking profits by region, while also visualizing key ratios that help demonstrate why specific countries are more profitable for the industry.

Finally, we’ve also looked at the particular geographic regions that may present the biggest opportunities in the future, and why they are relevant today.

Banking Profits, by Region

Before we look at what’s driving banking profits, let’s start with a breakdown of annual after-tax profits by region over time.

Banking Profit by Year and Region ($B)

 2009201020112012201320142015201620172018
Global ($B)$388$530$635$703$859$963$1,070$1,065$1,144$1,356
United States$19$118$176$263$268$263$291$275$270$403
China$95$135$174$225$255$278$278$270$301$333
Western Europe$78$34$21-$70$28$95$154$159$186$198
Rest of World$196$243$265$285$309$327$348$361$387$421

In 2018, the United States accounted for $403 billion of after-tax profits in the banking sector ⁠— however, China sits in a very close second place, raking in $333 billion.

What’s Under the Hood?

While there’s no doubt that financial services can be profitable in almost any corner of the globe, what is less obvious is where this profit actually comes from.

The truth is that banking can vary greatly depending on location ⁠— and what drives value for banks in one country may be completely different from what drives value in another.

Let’s look at data and ratios from four very different places to get a sense of how financial services markets can vary.

CountryRARC/GDPLoans Penetration/GDPMargins (RBRC/Total Loans)Risk Cost Margin
Global Average5.1%124%5.0%0.8%
United States5.4%121%5.0%0.4%
China6.6%147%6.0%1.4%
Singapore13.0%316%4.6%0.4%
Finland3.4%133%2.8%0.2%

1. RARC / GDP (Revenues After Risk Costs / GDP)
This ratio shows compares a country’s banking revenues to overall economic production, giving a sense of how important banking is to the economy. Using this, you can see that banking is far more important to Singapore’s economy than others in the table.

2. Loans Penetration / GDP
Loans penetration can be further broken up into retail loans and wholesale loans. The difference can be immediately seen when looking at data on China and the United States:

CountryRetail LoansWholesale LoansLoan Penetration (Total)
United States73%48%121%
China34%113%147%

In America, banks make loans primarily to the retail sector. In China, there’s a higher penetration on a wholesale basis — usually loans being made to corporations or other such entities.

3. Margins (Revenues Before Risk Costs / Total Loans)
Margins made on lending is one way for bankers to gauge the potential of a market, and as you can see above, margins in the United States and China are both at (or above) the global average. Meanwhile, for comparison, Finland has margins that are closer to half of the global average.

4. Risk Cost Margin (Risk Cost / Total Loans)
Not surprisingly, China still holds higher risk cost margins than the global average. On the flipside, established markets like Singapore, Finland, and the U.S. all have risk margins below the global average.

Future Opportunities in Banking

While this data is useful at breaking down existing markets, it can also help to give us a sense of future opportunities as well.

Here are some of the geographic markets that have the potential to grow into key financial services markets in the future:

  1. Sub-Saharan Africa
    Despite having 16x the population of South Africa, the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa still generates fewer banking profits. With lower loan penetration rates and RARC/GDP ratios, there is significant potential to be found throughout the continent.
  2. India and Indonesia
    Compared to similar economies in Asia, both India and Indonesia present an interesting banking opportunity because of their high margins and low loan penetration rates.
  3. China
    While China has a high overall loan penetration rate, the retail loan category still holds much potential given the country’s population and growing middle class.

A Changing Landscape in Banking

As banks shift focus to face new market challenges, the next chapter of banking may be even more interesting than the last.

Add in the high stakes around digital transformation, aging populations, and new service opportunities, and the distance between winners and losers could lengthen even more.

Where will the money in banking be in the future?

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