Cash Flows on a Regional Scale


The map you see above is a rather interesting critter. To get the full explanation of it, read this article: A ‘Whom Do You Hang With?’ Map Of America by Robert Krulwich. But here’s the short version: This map, using data from the Where’sGeorge? project, is a visual representation of how cash money flows across the United States. The blue lines represent areas which money doesn’t cross over as often: the darker the blue, the less money travels over the line. Faint blue lines are often caused by nearby cities pulling money toward them by the natural process of economics.

As you can see, the dollar bill is not always a respecter of borders. By extension, neither is the american consumer. Some areas of a given state, like the northern tip of California, do more business with other states than with the state they’re in. In other places there are starkly defined economic regions where cash flows easily within set borders: the region consisting of Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, and Oklahoma being a great example. Though it is a bit odd that we Okies don’t do more business with Texas.

This map is far from perfect of course, and no one will ever seriously suggest redrawing the political map because of it. The biggest single reason for this is that most money moves through the dynamic duo of plastic and electricity these days, not cash. Factor in Amazon alone and you’ll warp the whole map over toward Seattle. Throw in Apple, Microsoft, and Google too (just for starters) and you’ll make things even crazier.

But that’s not to say this map doesn’t have its worth. A savvy small business owner could examine the region they fall into and could likely discover some cultural similarities. There’s always a service or product to be provided, so the combination of the two could be a powerful driver toward regional expansion of a business into multiple locations. After all, people spending money in the same region will, to some extent, be spending it on the same things.  Locate those things and you might just discover a competitive advantage.

Or not. Any single data set alone can’t tell the whole story, and finding a multitude of sources to rely on is essential. But this map might be a good one to include, as it is suggestive of possibilities.


Thanks for reading,



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About Taylor Kothe

I'm a husband, accountant, and sometime blogger from Tulsa, Oklahoma. My passion is for personal finance, especially as it relates to teaching everyday people how to handle their everyday incomes and expenses. If you've ever found yourself lost in a rising tide of strange financial terms and incomprehensible policies, you're far from alone. So let's put our heads together and see if we can de-mystify some of the financial challenges that we all face.

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