The visualisation, below, shows how both Germany and Greece line up against the Maastricht treaty rules and the Alert Mechanism Report (AMR) criteria.

Under Maastricht, government deficits should not be more than 3% of GDP. You can see Germany drop below this in 1995, but recover quickly. Greece drops below in 2008 and recovers in 2011. There is no limit on government surpluses - the rules are asymmetrical. 

The AMR has the same asymmetry, requiring the current account to be in the range -4% to +6%. Against AMR criteria, the Greek current account drops below -4% in 1999, with a sharper deterioration from 2006-10. Greece is back within AMR criteria from 2012-14. Germany, in contrast, had a current account surplus above 6% in 2007, 2009 and 2011-14.

How to make your own animated GIF

You will need to write a VBA macro to plot your graph. Assuming you already have a graph, axes, titles, labels and lines created, the following VBA should do it:


For x = 1 To n


    With ActiveChart

       ' Draw the first line with an extra data point

        .SeriesCollection(1).Values = "=Sheet1!$B$7:$B$" & CStr(x)

        .SeriesCollection(1).XValues = "=Sheet1!$C$7:$C$" & CStr(x)

        ' Draw the second line with an extra data point

        .SeriesCollection(2).Values = "=Sheet1!$D$7:$D$" & CStr(x)

        .SeriesCollection(2).XValues = "=Sheet1!$E$7:$E$" & CStr(x)

        ' Update the heading text with the year

        .Shapes.Range(Array("TextBox")).TextFrame2.TextRange.Characters.Text = CStr(1984 + x)

    End With


    ' Wait 1 second between each update

    Application.Wait Now + TimeValue("00:00:01")


Next x

The GIF capture was done with ScreenToGif 1.4.1 freeware. On my PC setup (Windows 8) I found it easier to capture the whole screen with Excel in full screen view. The, use the Edit Frame... Crop... feature in ScreenToGif to select the chart itself.

It takes a bit of practice to start the VBA macro and GIF capture together. Basically, you need to experiment.



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