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The History of Currency in 10 Different Countries

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The History of Currency in 10 Different Countries

The History of Currency in 10 Different Countries

Even though there are short of 200 official fiat currencies today, throughout history there have been thousands of currencies that were once used for trade. The above infographic documents the history of currency in 10 different countries of significance.

There are some interesting lessons to be learned from this lengthy and often tumultuous history. For example, the Romans were really the first to debase their currency in a significant way, and many historians believe that this was a key factor in contributing to the downfall of the empire. Unfortunately, we have not learned from tragic events such as this (which helped cause the Dark Ages), and countless other currencies have also bit the dust since then.

One study of 775 fiat currencies found the average lifespan of a currency to be just 27 years. Here’s the breakdown:

  • 20% currencies failed through hyperinflation
  • 21% were destroyed through war
  • 12% were destroyed through independence
  • 24% were “monetarily reformed”
  • 23% are still in circulation

It seems like a foregone conclusion that some of the currencies listed in the above infographic may not exist in 10 years, or perhaps they get “monetarily reformed”. In any case, it’s worth noting that in today’s interconnected world, it may be easier to stave off the death of one currency through global intervention. However, systematically there is far greater risk. If one currency fails, the possibility also exists for many others to share the same fate through the domino effect.

Investors should study currency history, and as part of a smart portfolio they should protect their hard earned wealth and savings in a defensive fashion. Black swans do happen, and even the crisis in the tiny country of Cyprus had people reeling. The potential for something much bigger is inevitably a possibility – it is just a matter of when and how.

Original graphic from: ZH

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Ranked: The Top 25 Countries for Retirement

Of the 44 nations analyzed for retirement welfare, these 25 score well on health, financial, and social support for their aging populations.

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A cropped bar chart with the top 25 countries that are the best places for retirement.

Ranked: The Top 25 Countries for Retirement in 2024

In 1881, Otto von Bismarck proposed a radical idea for retirement: people above the age of 70 would be given a state pension, encouraging them to stop working.

This model has since been adopted en masse and most countries now have a retirement age, after which workers can claim benefits paid through years of their work.

However, modern-day retirement is much more than just finances. Wealth management company Natixis analyzed 44 nations on four main categories affecting the ability for their residents to retire well in the 2023 Global Retirement Index. Each category has subindices, from which they averaged scores out of 100 to create this ranking.

The categories are:

  • Health: Per capita spend on healthcare, life expectancy, and non-insured health spend.
  • Quality of Life: Happiness levels, water and sanitation, air quality, environment, and biodiversity.
  • Material Well-being: Per capita income, income equality, and employment levels.
  • Retirement Finances: Government debt, old-age dependency, interest rates, inflation, governance, taxes, and bank non-performing loans.
ℹ️ This index quantifies general retirement welfare in a country and does not account for countries which are retirement destinations—usually because of lower costs of living or better weather.

So, with one-third of the world expected to be 65 and older by 2050, how are countries stacking up against each other when it comes to creating supportive environments for retirement?

Of the countries analyzed for the best retirement conditions, here are the top 25.

What Are the Best Countries for Retirement?

Norway ranks first as the best country for retirement in this study, helped by top scores in health and material well-being.

For health metrics, Norway was one of the few countries to see life expectancy improve over the pandemic. It now sits at 83.3 years at birth, and is one of the highest rates in the world. This is in contrast to many other countries in the index (Canada, Austria, the U.S.) that saw life expectancies drop recently due to the higher mortality rate during the pandemic.

For well-being, Norway’s current low unemployment rate (3.8%) reduces undue pressure on their social security net.

In fact, Norway along with the next top three countries (Switzerland, Iceland, and Ireland) all retain their rankings from last year, along with Estonia, which is ranked 25th. Every other country gained or lost a spot as seen below.

RankCountryScoreRank Change
(from 2022)
1🇳🇴 Norway83%0
2🇨🇭 Switzerland82%0
3🇮🇸 Iceland81%0
4🇮🇪 Ireland80%0
5🇱🇺 Luxembourg79%+2
6🇳🇱 Netherlands79%+2
7🇦🇺 Australia78%-2
8🇳🇿 New Zealand77%-2
9🇩🇪 Germany76%+2
10🇩🇰 Denmark76%-1
11🇦🇹 Austria75%+3
12🇨🇦 Canada74%+3
13🇫🇮 Finland74%-1
14🇸🇪 Sweden74%-1
15🇸🇮 Slovenia73%+6
16🇬🇧 UK73%+3
19🇧🇪 Belgium72%+1
17🇮🇱 Israel72%-1
18🇨🇿 Czech Republic72%-8
20🇺🇸 U.S.71%-2
21🇰🇷 South Korea70%-4
22🇲🇹 Malta69%+1
23🇫🇷 France69%+1
24🇯🇵 Japan68%-2
25🇪🇪 Estonia67%0

Other highlights in the top 25 include: Australia, at 7th, which is the highest-ranked non-European country in the index. The country scores well in retirement finances due to its superannuation pension fund system, currently worth $3.5 trillion, fifth-largest in the world.

Meanwhile, France, just outside the top 20, saw widespread protests in early 2023 when a law to raise the retirement age to 64 was passed through special constitutional powers. Raising the retirement age will presumably keep people working longer, paying mandatory payroll tax to fund retirement benefits, and will improve their steadily worsening old-age dependency ratio.

A worsening old-age dependency ratio is where the share of older, dependent people to younger, employed people keeps increasing, reducing the sustainability of retirement benefits.

How Countries are Preparing for the “Silver Tsunami”

France is not the only country trying to keep its population working longer. The Chinese government is also looking to raise its retirement age in gradual shifts, as it grapples not only with an aging population but also a declining one.

Immigration has also been frequently cited as a near-term measure to boost the working-age population and increase the benefits pool. Canada, for example, had 6 workers for every retiree in 1980. In 2015 that had dropped to 4. By 2030, it will drop further to 3. As a result the country has pursued aggressive immigration for more than a decade now and has grown its population by 10 million since 2010.

Finally, there has been a push towards increasing overall productivity by targeting technological advancements and automation. However both need to occur in tandem with re-skilling so that they don’t result in net job losses, which will only further burden social security systems.

Where Does This Data Come From?

Source: Global Retirement Index.

Methodology: Under 18 metrics, a score from 0.01 to 1 is determined for each country in each indicator, which is then averaged to an overall percentage. The geometric mean is used for all averages to ensure consistency in results across variable scales. Furthermore, the index uses unit-elastic substitution. Thus, if a country has very low scores in certain subindices, improving another subindex to a high score will lead to a less-than-proportional increase in the overall index score. This is necessary since the underlying assumption of the index is that at least a basic level of health, finances, well-being, and quality of life is needed to enjoy retirement. To read Natixis’ full methodology, refer to page 54-58 in the linked report.

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