We look at this visually striking book by Jeff Desjardins. Signals: The 27 Trends Defining the Future of the Global Economy is available from Wiley here.

Signals: The 27 Trends Defining the Future of the Global Economy

Visually we liked this book, there is a lot going on, covering a lot of areas. As always with any predictions of the global economy it can be hard to perhaps cover everything, though, with 27 topics Desjardins has aimed to be comprehensive and broad in his coverage. Many areas are covered and it might make sense to loop back to key areas a few times. The graphics on when renewable usage will pass out coal and then gas in terms of price are great and inspiring. It has already happened in some areas, and does illustrate the madness of looking to lobby to protect and create more mining jobs in the US, when it could be doing so much more, for better value, by focussing on the new industries.

While 27 trends are covered by the end of the book we were scratching our heads to see if we had missed the coverage of a couple of key areas. The environmental piece is covered well, but firstly there seemed to be little to no discussion of the impact of the global pandemic, and how that might impact these key economic trends going forwards. Economics, often named the dismal science, has a poor track record of remembering to include the key human and environmental elements in the past. Previously water and air pollution costs were seen as mere externalities for many economists.

Desjardins has corrected this with the book’s coverage of environmental topics. However the pandemic is now approaching nearly two years and counting. It is possible that this book was written before it happened, though this seems less likely now that we have been living with it for so long. Similarly it now seems a fairly conservative prediction to imagine that we will not be done with covid-19 in some form before Q3 of 2022. Even if it is of a milder variety, the grim reality is that much of Africa is still at under 10% with any form of vaccination. One recent report estimated that, at current rates of vaccination it could still be 2024 before Africa approaches coverage rates anywhere like what we now have in Ireland and other parts of the world.

The other key trend that seems to be absent is any discussion of DeFi, altcoins and crypto based currencies in general. There is a chapter where it seems like Desjardins is about to tackle this area, where national currencies are discussed, but then it moves on without ever discussing the growing possibility of a Chinese, US and UK digital currency among other possible countries. This feels like a significant emission in a book about the global economy surely?

Apart from these two critiques we found the book visually fascinating and great, as far as it goes.

More about the book

Discover the trends shaping our world, and explore the data underlying them, in this fascinating, visual journey.

In Signals, Visual Capitalist founder and editor-in-chief Jeff Desjardins and his team explore the 27 most important trends shaping the future of our global economy. This striking book draws on the oceans of data we’re all surrounded by to extract insights about where we are and where we are headed—from society and demographics to the environment, digital tech, the markets, and more. It also includes:

  • Infographics, charts, and other data visualizations that identify signals hiding in the data
  • Discussions about the impact trends are having on the world around us
  • A full bibliography with references to the data sourced by the author

Signals is a must-read for entrepreneurs, executives, policymakers, and regulators—or simply, anyone seeking to navigate a complex world.

More about the book

Jeff Desjardins is the Editor-in-Chief of Visual Capitalist, a media site that creates and curates visuals on business and investing. His work has been featured in Forbes, CNBC, MarketWatch, The Huffington Post, The World Economic Forum, and The Wall Street Journal.

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