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Story Behind The Economist's Covers

The Economist is one of the biggest journals today and publishes weekly articles on economics, world news, finance, business, and politics. Many of these articles easily become popular with the journal’s trustworthy reputation. With its famous cartoons and critical covers, The Economist has become increasingly well-known over time. This article will depict the cartoonist behind the cartoons, what made the designs popular, how they make the covers that predict the following year, and explore the details of the 2024 cover.


The cartoonist behind The Economist’s designs is Kevin Kallaugher, mostly known by his nickname KAL by the readers. He has been drawing for The Economist for over 40 years and holds numerous awards. Kallaugher mostly draws political cartoons that are known for their critical irony. Up until today, he drew over 4,000 cartoons and 140 covers.


The covers of The Economist have become more popular as their end-of-year covers feature predictions for the following year. Some of the accurate predictions include the COVID-19 pandemic, the war between Russia and Ukraine, and the rise of the metaverse, making readers impressed with the journal’s clever designs.


The predictions are made by interpreting the current common problems in the world— economic conditions, wars, political issues, and elections play a significant role in the designing stage. Some think the covers do not have any significance while some believe that the covers are true by heart.


To completely understand these covers, one has to dig deep— the choice of color, symbols, drawings, and sentences may all mean something beyond what’s visible. As a result, the readers of The Economist examine each cover in depth to understand their message.


Let's explore some of the most popular covers. Some critical aspects of the 2020 cover that came true are the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the COVID-19 pandemic. On the 2020 cover, “The World Ahead: 2020”, we see an eye test forming a code. Initially, the red and green of 2020 grabs the attention— in the science of esotericism (the study of the secrecy), the number 2020 is used to represent an unknown impending incident, which is interpreted to be COVID-19. Secondly, we see the abbreviation AI engraved in the eye test, symbolizing the rise of AI and how it will become more and more involved in our daily lives. The term Artificial Intelligence has become more widespread after 2020, and it is surely a turning point for the world to enter the age of high technology. Therefore, we can understand that this cover successfully guessed some major events of 2020.


So, according to The Economist, what should we expect of the following year? The 2024 cover was designed by Jérôme Berthier and features only illustrations. Firstly, we can see a decreasing graph surrounded by four currencies: United States Dollars, Pound, Euro, and Chinese Yuan. These four currencies are currently the main currencies used for investing purposes. The illustration is believed to symbolize the decrease in the value of these currencies, and between them is a question mark implying the rise of a new investment tool, which is believed to be cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Ripple. Considering that cryptocurrencies have risen in popularity in recent years, we might expect this figure to come true. Secondly, there is a box with envelopes in the middle of the design. The box is an election box that symbolizes the upcoming US elections. Lastly, there are wind turbines on the right side which might suggest the increase in pace of transitioning from non-renewable energy to sustainable energy.


To summarize, The Economist is not just a weekly journal but also a great reflection on the world’s current problems. With its ironic cartoons and clever covers with passwords, The Economist has become a more and more popular source of information.



Works Cited

“The Economist’s Cartoonist, Kevin Kallaugher, to Discuss and Sign His New Book.” Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. Accessed 18 Dec. 2023.

“The Economist 2020 Yılında Olacakları Önceden Haber Verdi.” Ekonomi Ege | Ege İş Dünyası | Şirket Haberleri | Ege Ekonomisi. Accessed 19 Dec. 2023.

“Introducing the World Ahead 2024.” The Economist. Accessed 19 Dec. 2023.

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