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The History of Currency in 10 Different Countries



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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Visualizing $156 Trillion in U.S. Assets, by Generation

We’ve visualized data from the Federal Reserve to provide a comprehensive break down of U.S. assets by generation.



Visualizing U.S. Wealth by Generation

The distribution of wealth is an important measure of the economic power of each generation.

In the U.S., for example, baby boomers own half of the nation’s $156 trillion in assets despite making up 21% of the country’s population.

To learn more about U.S. wealth by generation, we’ve created two visualizations using Q4 2022 data from the Federal Reserve that break down both the assets and liabilities held by each American generation.

Assets by Generation

Assets by generation are listed in the table below. All figures are as of Q4 2022 and in USD trillions.

GenerationEquities &
Mutual Funds
Durable and
Other Assets
Generation's Total
Silent Generation$5.3$4.8$2.0$1.7$4.9$18.6
Baby Boomers$19.0$18.3$16.2$7.9$16.7$78.1
Generation X$8.8$13.6$9.5$6.0$8.1$46.0

Baby boomers’ biggest category of assets is Equities & Mutual Funds, where they own 56% of the national total. Millennials, on the other hand, represent just 2%.

Where millennials do have more wealth is Real Estate, with 12% of the national total. This suggests that millennials have, for the most part, foregone investing in financial assets in order to purchase a home.

Liabilities by Generation

The following charts show a breakdown of liabilities by generation. Not surprisingly, Mortgages make up the largest component of liabilities for all generations.

US Liabilities by Generation

Something to highlight is that millennials are carrying the largest amount of Consumer Credit, at $2 trillion (representing about 43% of total consumer credit). As of 2022, millennials accounted for 22% of the U.S. population.

U.S. Wealth by Generation

Finally, we subtract liabilities from assets to arrive at total wealth by generation in the United States. Figures again are USD and in trillions.

GenerationAssetsLiabilitiesWealthShare of Wealth
Silent Generation$18.6$0.8$17.813%
Baby Boomers$78.1$5.1$73.053%
Generation X$46.0$7.0$39.028%

As a final note, it’s worth highlighting that Gen Z is still too young to be included as a separate demographic in datasets like these. Born between 1997 and 2012, these individuals are currently between 11 and 26 years old. Interestingly, the Federal Reserve currently considers all U.S. adults born after 1981 as millennials.

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