Connect with us

Money

Here’s How Reserve Currencies Have Evolved Over 120 Years

Published

on

https://player.vimeo.com/api/player.js

Here’s How Reserve Currencies Have Evolved Over 120 Years

Over the last 120 years, the popularity of different reserve currencies have ebbed and flowed, reflecting the shifting fortunes of leading global economies.

For example, in the year 1900, the U.S. dollar and pound sterling made up 0% and 62% of global reserves respectively. But fast forward to 2020, and the pound now represents just 4.7% of global currency reserves, while the U.S. dollar stands at nearly 60%.

Today’s motion graphic from James Eagle looks at the year-over-year change in currency reserves as a portion of total reserves, spread across 120 years.

Currency1900192019401960198020002020
U.S. Dollar0.0%28.4%27.9%61.7%57.9%71.2%59.0%
Euro0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%17.5%18.5%21.2%
Deutsche mark14.7%4.2%0.0%0.0%12.9%0.0%0.0%
Japanese yen0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%3.9%5.8%6.0%
Pound sterling62.0%57.3%68.9%35.1%2.4%2.7%4.7%
Chinese renminbi0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%2.3%
French franc17.5%6.2%2.1%1.3%1.0%0.0%0.0%
Canadian dollar0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%2.1%
Australian dollar0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%0.0%1.8%
Swiss franc0.0%0.0%0.8%0.3%2.2%0.3%0.2%
Dutch guilder0.0%3.9%0.3%0.1%0.9%0.0%0.0%
Other5.7%0.0%0.0%1.6%1.3%1.5%2.7%

What is a Reserve Currency?

A reserve currency is a large quantity of currency held in “reserve” by monetary authorities like central banks.

Currencies are often held in reserve in preparation for investments and transactions, among other things. Our vast global trade system, which is approaching $20 trillion in value, means plenty of currencies are always needed in reserve. In fact, an estimated $5 trillion in currency swaps hands every single day.

Here are some reasons that currency reserves are held:

  • Exchange rate stability for the domestic currency
  • To ensures liquidity in times of crisis
  • To diversify central bank portfolios, which can reduce risk and improve credit ratings
    • All things equal, countries benefit economically from greater demand for their respective currencies.

      The Rise and Fall of Reserve Currencies

      Some economists argue that the demand for currencies in the long run revolves around the economic relevance of a country. In general, the larger and more powerful a nation’s economy is, the greater the network effect, and the more interlinked they are to the global economy. Thus, the greater demand there is to hold their currency in reserve.

      The last 120 years of currency reserve data shows some support for this claim. For example, Japan’s economy hit a peak in terms of its relative share of global GDP in the early 1990s, just before the effects of the Lost Decade were felt. Subsequently, their peak as a reserve currency was around the same horizon, at 9.4% in 1990.

      America’s Era of Dominance

      Due to the economic strength of the United States in the post-WWII era, the dollar is what economists call a vehicle currency.

      This means many non-dollar economies still choose to engage in international transactions using the dollar. These smaller and less accepted currencies are often converted to U.S. dollars before proceeding with any business or trade dealings. This is why, although Asian economies tend to have neighboring states as their top trade partners, they still engage in a massive portion of these transactions with the U.S. greenback as the currency of choice.

      Here are some facts that further exemplify the strength and power of the U.S. dollar:

      • More than 65 countries peg their currencies to the U.S. dollar
      • Five U.S. territories and a number of sovereign countries, such as Ecuador and Panama, use it as an official currency of exchange
      • Around 90% of all Forex trading involves the U.S. dollar
        • Additionally, the dollar is often seen as a haven in times of extreme uncertainty and tumult. Given its status as the world’s reserve currency, it can be perceived as less risky and can withstand economic shock to a greater degree relative to other currencies.

          New Challengers to the Dollar

          In the not too distant past, the U.S. displaced the UK economically and as the world’s reserve currency. Today, the U.S. economy is showing signs of slowing down, based on GDP growth.

          China is on the rise, having already displaced the U.S. as the EU’s top trade partner. With projections for China to overtake the U.S. as the world’s largest economy before 2030 in nominal terms, could a new global reserve currency emerge?

          green check mark icon

          This article was published as a part of Visual Capitalist's Creator Program, which features data-driven visuals from some of our favorite Creators around the world.

Click for Comments

Money

Ranked: The World’s Top 10 Billionaires in 2024

With a $205 billion fortune, Elon Musk is currently the world’s richest billionaire.

Published

on

Bar chart showing the world's top 10 billionaires as of June 2024.

The World’s Top 10 Billionaires (June 2024)

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

Elon Musk has reached a net worth of $205.4 billion in 2024, securing his position as the richest billionaire in the world, ahead of Jeff Bezos at $203.2 billion and Bernard Arnault at $200 billion. Arnault, the billionaire chairman and CEO of the global luxury goods company LVMH, led the ranking at the beginning of the year.

Using data from Forbes’ Real-Time Billionaires List, we provide a snapshot of the top 10 billionaires in the world as of June 11, 2024. It is important to note that the rank changes frequently due to fluctuations in stock prices, market conditions, and significant business transactions.

$1.6T in Combined Wealth

The wealth of the top 10 wealthiest people ($1.6 trillion) is almost equivalent to Mexico’s GDP, the 14th largest economy in the world.

At the top of the list, Elon Musk’s wealth derives primarily from his stake in Tesla, his holdings in SpaceX, and the social media platform X.

RankNameNet Worth (USD in Billions)Source
1Elon Musk$205.40Tesla, SpaceX
3Jeff Bezos$203.20Amazon
2Bernard Arnault & family$200.00LVMH
4Mark Zuckerberg$176.50Facebook
5Larry Ellison$153.70Oracle
6Larry Page$145.10Google
8Sergey Brin$139.00Google
7Warren Buffett$134.00Berkshire Hathaway
9Bill Gates$131.00Microsoft
10Steve Ballmer$126.50Microsoft

Recently, Tesla shareholders voted to approve a pay package worth approximately $50 billion for Musk at the company’s annual shareholder meeting. This decision is being challenged by a Delaware judge, who has described Musk’s award as “unfathomable.”

Meanwhile, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos overtook Bernard Arnault as the second-wealthiest person in June 2024, after LVMH’s shares fell and Amazon’s shares slightly increased.

As a relevant side note, Arnault has also been carefully laying succession plans for LVMH this year, with the 75-year-old recently appointing two more of his sons to the company’s board in April 2024. This leaves just his youngest son without a spot on the board, though he is employed at the company.

Continue Reading
Appian-Capital

Subscribe

Popular