The history of counterfeiting is almost as extensive as the history of money itself.
It’s said that even the first electrum coins in Lydia were regularly faked, and coming across counterfeit coins in Ancient Rome was a daily occurrence. Roman Emperors, like other rulers, also famously did their own counterfeiting, debasing the metal in coins and trying to pass them off as having higher value.
The problem of funny money remained an issue for society even thousands of years later. For example, at the start of the U.S. Civil War in 1861 – when banks still issued their own currencies – it was estimated that half of the banknotes in circulation were forgeries.
Banknote Security Features
And as we move towards a more digital world, the cat and mouse games between authorities and counterfeiters continues.
Today’s infographic comes to us from TitleMax and it details 10 popular banknotes from around the world, including the anti-counterfeiting measures that have been taken for each note.
Through centuries of collective experience, advances in technology, and many episodes of trial and error, the latest fiat banknotes have impressive security features that blow previous generations out of the water.
Common Security Features Used
Many national mints have adopted similar anti-counterfeiting technologies for their banknotes:
Plastic money: In Canada, authorities were starting to find 470 counterfeits for every one million legitimate banknotes that existed – a rate almost 10x as high as other G20 countries. In light of this problem, the Bank of Canada recently introduced polymer notes that make counterfeiting considerably more difficult.
Polymer banknotes were pioneered in Australia in 1988, and like Canada, many countries have made the switch to polymer including the United Kingdom, Malaysia, Chile, New Zealand, and Mexico.
Holograms: More than 300 denominations in 97 currencies use holograms for protection, making them one of the most common security features globally. They can be incorporated into designs by the way of security threads, stripes, patches and window features.
Watermarks: One of the most common security features, watermarks are created by using different thicknesses of paper in the printing process. When hit with light, an image will be illuminated.
Microtext: Tiny text, which can only be read with a magnifying glass, is a common safety feature on many bills globally.
Color-changing features: Roughly 42% of banknotes issued since 2011 use color-changing features in which parts of the note change color to the viewer depending on the angle.
Security thread: Many notes use this security feature, which consists of a thin ribbon that is threaded through the note’s paper.
Invisible marks: Notes can also incorporate ink or markings that are only visible in fluorescent or infrared light, making them invisible to the naked eye.
Ranked: The World’s Black Billionaires in 2021
Black billionaires make up fewer than 1% of all billionaires worldwide. Who are they, and how have they built their wealth?
The World’s Black Billionaires in 2021
Black billionaires make up fewer than 1% of all billionaires worldwide. Who are the select few who made it into the ranks of the world’s richest people?
In this graphic, we used the Forbes real-time billionaire list to highlight the most financially successful Black people, and the source(s) of their wealth.
Black Billionaires, Ranked
The data is as of February 24, 2021, and includes bi/multi racial individuals with Black ancestry. Altogether, there are 15 Black billionaires with a combined wealth of $48.9 billion.
Here is the how the full list breaks down:
|1||Aliko Dangote||$11.5B||Nigeria||Cement, sugar|
|2||Mike Adenuga||$6.1B||Nigeria||Telecom, oil|
|3||Robert F. Smith||$5.2B||United States||Private equity|
|4||Abdulsamad Rabiu||$4.8B||Nigeria||Cement, sugar|
|5||David Steward||$3.7B||United States||IT provider|
|6||Patrice Motsepe||$3.1B||South Africa||Mining|
|7||Alexander Karp||$3.0B||United States||Software firm|
|8||Oprah Winfrey||$2.6B||United States||TV shows|
|9||Michael Jordan||$1.6B||United States||Charlotte Hornets, endorsements|
|10||Michael Lee-Chin||$1.5B||Canada||Mutual funds|
|12||Kanye West||$1.3B||United States||Music, sneakers|
|13||Mohammed Ibrahim||$1.1B||United Kingdom||Communications|
|14||Shawn Carter (Jay-Z)||$1.0B||United States||Music, multiple|
|15||Tyler Perry||$1.0B||United States||Movies, television|
Aliko Dangote is the richest Black billionaire, and has held the title since 2013. He owns 85% of publicly-traded Dangote Cement, Africa’s largest cement producer. The company’s stock price went up more than 30% over the last year. In addition, Dangote also has investments in salt and sugar manufacturing companies.
The fifth richest Black person, David Steward, owns the technology solutions provider World Wide Technology. Steward had decided he wanted to be part of the technological revolution and founded the company in 1990, before the first internet browser had even been created. The company has since grown to be the largest Black-owned business in America with over $13.4 billion in annual revenue and more than 7,000 employees.
Best known for his music career, Shawn Carter, more commonly known as Jay-Z, is number 14 on the list. However, the rapper’s wealth goes far beyond his music. Jay-Z has built a diversified business empire, including investments in a fine art collection, an entertainment company, a clothing line, and alcohol brands. He recently sold half of his champagne brand to LVMH, the parent company of Dom Pérignon.
Unfortunately, little progress has been made with regards to the proportion of Black billionaires. Since 2011, Black billionaires have made up fewer than 1% of all billionaires worldwide.
In absolute numbers, the total number of billionaires rose by over 1,100 while the number of Black billionaires rose by just nine people.
The number of Black billionaires also falls very short of being representative of the general population. For example, only 8 or 1.2% of America’s 665 billionaires are Black. By contrast, Black people make up 12.2% of the U.S. population.
Breaking Through Barriers
There is still a large racial wealth gap between Black people and White people—even at the highest levels of financial achievement. However, despite these racial and systemic barriers, 14 of the 15 Black billionaires are self-made, meaning they built their wealth from the ground up. Who will be next to join the ranks?
“Innovation doesn’t happen without a person of color or a diversity of thought being at the table in order to challenge the status quo.”
How Global Health and Wealth Has Changed Over Two Centuries
This unique animated visualization uses health and wealth measurements to chart the evolution of countries over time.
How Global Health and Wealth Has Changed Over 221 Years
At the dawn of the 19th century, global life expectancy was only 28.5 years.
Outbreaks, war, and famine would still kill millions of people at regular intervals. These issues are still stubbornly present in 21st century society, but broadly speaking, the situation around the world has vastly improved. Today, most of humanity lives in countries where the life expectancy is above the typical retirement age of 65.
At the same time, while inequality remains a hot button topic within countries, income disparity between countries is slowing beginning to narrow.
This animated visualization, created by James Eagle, tracks the evolution of health and wealth factors in countries around the world. For further exploration, Gapminder also has a fantastic interactive chart that showcases the same dataset.
The Journey to the Upper-Right Quadrant
In general terms, history has seen health practices improve and countries become increasingly wealthy–trends that are reflected in this visualization. In fact, most countries drift towards the upper-right quadrant over the 221 years covered in the dataset.
However, that path to the top-right, which indicates high levels of both life expectancy and GDP per capita, is rarely a linear journey. Here are some of the noteworthy events and milestones to watch out for while viewing the animation.
1880s: Breaking the 50-Year Barrier
In the late 19th century, Nordic countries such as Sweden and Norway already found themselves past the 50-year life expectancy mark. This was a significant milestone considering the global life expectancy was a full 20 years shorter at the time. It wasn’t until the year 1960 that the global life expectancy would catch up.
1918: The Spanish Flu and WWI
At times, a confluence of factors can impact health and wealth in countries and regions. In this case, World War I coincided with one of the deadliest pandemics in history, leading to global implications. In the animation, this is abundantly clear as the entire cluster of circles takes a nose dive for a short period of time.
1933, 1960: Communist Famines
At various points in history, human decisions can have catastrophic consequences. This was the case in the Soviet Union (1933) and the People’s Republic of China (1960), where life expectancy plummeted during famines that killed millions of people. These extreme events are easy to spot in the animation due to the large populations of the countries in question.
1960s: Oil Economies Kick into High Gear
During this time, Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia all experience massive booms in wealth, and in the following decade, smaller countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait rocket to the right edge of the visualization.
In following decades, both Iran and Iraq can be seen experiencing wild fluctuations in both health and wealth as regime changes and conflict begin to destabilize the region.
1990s: AIDS in Africa
In the animation, a number of countries plummet in unison at the end of the 20th century. These are sub-Saharan African countries that were hit hard by the AIDS pandemic. At its peak in the early ’00s, the disease accounted for more than half of deaths in some countries.
1995: Breaking the 65-Year Barrier
Global life expectancy reaches retirement age. At this point in time, there is a clear divide in both health and wealth between African and South Asian countries and the rest of the world. Thankfully, that gap is would continue to narrow in coming years.
1990-2000s: China’s Economic Rise
With a population well over a billion people, it’s impossible to ignore China in any global overview. Starting from the early ’90s, China begins its march from the left to right side of the chart, highlighting the unprecedented economic growth it experienced during that time.
What the Future Holds
If current trends continue, global life expectancy is expected to surpass the 80-year mark by 2100. And, sub-Saharan Africa, which has the lowest life expectancy today, is expected to mostly close the gap, reaching 75 years of age.
Wealth is also expected to increase nearly across the board, with the biggest gains coming from places like Vietnam, Nigeria, and the Philippines. Some experts are projecting the world economy as a whole to double in size by 2050.
There are always bumps along the way, but it appears that the journey to the upper-right quadrant is still very much underway.
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