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Chart: Investing in the Finer Things in Life

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Chart: The Finer Investments in Life

The Finer Investments in Life

The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.

Outside of the mainstream world of stocks and bonds, there exists an interesting cross-section of alternative assets that only really gain appreciation from a relatively small group of elite investors.

These luxury collectibles – things like fine wine, classic cars, rare stamps, colored diamonds, Chinese ceramics, and fine art – are unquestionably fun to hold as investments and even to talk about. But do these alternative assets also perform as investments over time?

Eye of the Beholder

The obvious challenge with valuing an item like a prized Picasso painting is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Investors can rely on expert opinions, their own experience, historical evidence, and longstanding markets for these asset classes. However, at the end of the day, the price an investor is willing to pay is ultimately subjective, which can get compounded by the fact that these markets also tend to be illiquid.

If you’re buying or selling one of these assets, this can either work in your favor – or you can be stuck with a classic car in your garage that never really panned out in terms of price.

Here is a graph showing the sale dates of some of the most expensive paintings:

Top painting sales and Salvator Mundi

Recently, you may remember the sale of Leonardo da Vinci’s re-discovered masterpiece, Salvator Mundi, as an event that topped headlines in late-2017. The painting was bought for $450 million by Abu Dhabiโ€™s department of culture and tourism, and it’s to be displayed in the Abu Dhabi Louvre.

Investments that Age Well

Despite the challenges involved in valuing these assets, as well as other costs such as setting up the storage and security systems needed to protect them, time has been kind to many of these luxury assets.

Here are the returns of luxury items over the last decade, based on the 2018 Wealth Report by Knight Frank:

Ten Year ReturnsCAGR
Autos334%15.8%
Fine Wine192%11.3%
Rare Coins182%10.9%
Jewelry138%9.1%
Rare Stamps103%7.4%
Fine Art78%5.9%
Colored Diamonds70%5.5%
Watches69%5.4%
Chinese Ceramics-3%-0.3%
Furniture-32%-3.8%

Keep in mind these investment categories are pretty narrow – for example, a Toyota Corolla doesn’t count towards the auto category. Instead, we’re talking about cars like the Lancia Aurelia B24 “Spider”, of which only 761 models were made in the 1950s.

In any case, as you can see from the above table, most of these assets have not only continued to hold their value, but they’ve also appreciated in price significantly. Autos topped the list, but fine wine and rare coins (two more accessible options for investors) also did quite well with 11.3% and 10.9% annual gains, respectively.

Correction: A previous version of the graphic showed an incorrect Jean-Michel Basquiat painting.

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Debt

Visualizing $97 Trillion of Global Debt in 2023

Global debt has soared since the pandemic. Which countries have the biggest stockpile of debt outstanding in 2023?

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Visualizing $97 Trillion of Global Debt in 2023

Global debt is projected to hit $97.1 trillion this year, a 40% increase since 2019.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, governments introduced sweeping financial measures to support the job market and prevent a wave of bankruptcies. However, this has exposed vulnerabilities as higher interest rates are amplifying borrowing costs.

This graphic shows global debt by country in 2023, based on projections from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Debt by Country in 2023

Below, we rank countries by their general government gross debt, or the financial liabilities owed by each country:

CountryGross Debt (B)% of World TotalDebt to GDP
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ U.S.$33,228.934.2%123.3%
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ China$14,691.715.1%83.0%
๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต Japan$10,797.211.1%255.2%
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง UK$3,468.73.6%104.1%
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France$3,353.93.5%110.0%
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น Italy$3,141.43.2%143.7%
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ India$3,056.73.1%81.9%
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany$2,919.33.0%65.9%
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada$2,253.32.3%106.4%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท Brazil$1,873.71.9%88.1%
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ Spain$1,697.51.7%107.3%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ Mexico$954.61.0%52.7%
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท South Korea$928.11.0%54.3%
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ Australia$875.90.9%51.9%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Singapore$835.00.9%167.9%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ช Belgium$665.20.7%106.0%
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ท Argentina$556.50.6%89.5%
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฉ Indonesia$552.80.6%39.0%
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Netherlands$540.90.6%49.5%
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑ Poland$419.40.4%49.8%
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ท Greece$407.20.4%168.0%
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ท Tรผrkiye$397.20.4%34.4%
๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ Russia$394.80.4%21.2%
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡น Austria$393.60.4%74.8%
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ฌ Egypt$369.30.4%92.7%
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ Switzerland$357.70.4%39.5%
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ญ Thailand$314.50.3%61.4%
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Israel$303.60.3%58.2%
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡น Portugal$299.40.3%108.3%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡พ Malaysia$288.30.3%66.9%
๐Ÿ‡ฟ๐Ÿ‡ฆ South Africa$280.70.3%73.7%
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฐ Pakistan$260.90.3%76.6%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Saudi Arabia$257.70.3%24.1%
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช Ireland$251.70.3%42.7%
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ญ Philippines$250.90.3%57.6%
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Finland$225.00.2%73.6%
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ด Norway$204.50.2%37.4%
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ด Colombia$200.10.2%55.0%
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ผ Taiwan$200.00.2%26.6%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช Sweden$192.90.2%32.3%
๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ด Romania$178.70.2%51.0%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฉ Bangladesh$175.90.2%39.4%
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Ukraine$152.80.2%88.1%
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Czech Republic$152.20.2%45.4%
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Nigeria$151.30.2%38.8%
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ช UAE$149.70.2%29.4%
๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡ณ Vietnam$147.30.2%34.0%
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡บ Hungary$140.00.1%68.7%
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Chile$132.20.1%38.4%
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Denmark$126.70.1%30.1%
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ถ Iraq$125.50.1%49.2%
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Algeria$123.50.1%55.1%
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ New Zealand$115.00.1%46.1%
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ท Iran$112.10.1%30.6%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Morocco$102.70.1%69.7%
๐Ÿ‡ถ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Qatar$97.50.1%41.4%
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ช Peru$89.70.1%33.9%
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ด Angola$79.60.1%84.9%
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ช Kenya$79.10.1%70.2%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Slovakia$75.40.1%56.7%
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ด Dominican Republic$72.10.1%59.8%
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡จ Ecuador$65.90.1%55.5%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฉ Sudan$65.50.1%256.0%
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ญ Ghana$65.10.1%84.9%
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Kazakhstan$60.70.1%23.4%
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡น Ethiopia$59.00.1%37.9%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ญ Bahrain$54.50.1%121.2%
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ท Costa Rica$53.90.1%63.0%
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ท Croatia$51.20.1%63.8%
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡พ Uruguay$47.00.0%61.6%
๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ด Jordan$46.90.0%93.8%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Slovenia$46.80.0%68.5%
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Cรดte d'Ivoire$45.10.0%56.8%
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฆ Panama$43.50.0%52.8%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Myanmar$43.00.0%57.5%
๐Ÿ‡ด๐Ÿ‡ฒ Oman$41.40.0%38.2%
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ณ Tunisia$39.90.0%77.8%
๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ธ Serbia$38.50.0%51.3%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ด Bolivia$37.80.0%80.8%
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ฟ Tanzania$35.80.0%42.6%
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Uzbekistan$31.70.0%35.1%
๐Ÿ‡ฟ๐Ÿ‡ผ Zimbabwe$30.90.0%95.4%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡พ Belarus$30.40.0%44.1%
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡น Guatemala$29.10.0%28.3%
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡น Lithuania$28.70.0%36.1%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ป El Salvador$25.80.0%73.0%
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Uganda$25.30.0%48.3%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ณ Senegal$25.20.0%81.0%
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡พ Cyprus$25.20.0%78.6%
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡บ Luxembourg$24.60.0%27.6%
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Hong Kong SAR$23.50.0%6.1%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฌ Bulgaria$21.70.0%21.0%
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Cameroon$20.60.0%41.9%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Mozambique$19.70.0%89.7%
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ท Puerto Rico$19.60.0%16.7%
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ต Nepal$19.30.0%46.7%
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ป Latvia$18.90.0%40.6%
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ธ Iceland$18.70.0%61.2%
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡พ Paraguay$18.10.0%40.9%
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Lao P.D.R.$17.30.0%121.7%
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ณ Honduras$15.70.0%46.3%
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฌ Papua New Guinea$15.70.0%49.5%
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡น Trinidad and Tobago$14.60.0%52.5%
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Albania$14.50.0%62.9%
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Republic of Congo$14.10.0%97.8%
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Azerbaijan$14.10.0%18.2%
๐Ÿ‡พ๐Ÿ‡ช Yemen$14.00.0%66.4%
๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Jamaica$13.60.0%72.3%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ณ Mongolia$13.10.0%69.9%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ซ Burkina Faso$12.70.0%61.2%
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Gabon$12.50.0%64.9%
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ช Georgia$11.90.0%39.6%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡บ Mauritius$11.80.0%79.7%
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Armenia$11.80.0%47.9%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ธ Bahamas$11.70.0%84.2%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Mali$11.00.0%51.8%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡น Malta$11.00.0%54.1%
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ญ Cambodia$10.90.0%35.3%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฏ Benin$10.60.0%53.0%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ผ Malawi$10.40.0%78.6%
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ช Estonia$9.00.0%21.6%
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฉ Democratic Republic of Congo$9.00.0%13.3%
๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ผ Rwanda$8.80.0%63.3%
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Namibia$8.50.0%67.6%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Madagascar$8.50.0%54.0%
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ช Niger$8.30.0%48.7%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฐ North Macedonia$8.20.0%51.6%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฆ Bosnia and Herzegovina$7.70.0%28.6%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ป Maldives$7.70.0%110.3%
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ณ Guinea$7.30.0%31.6%
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Nicaragua$7.20.0%41.5%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ง Barbados$7.20.0%115.0%
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ฌ Togo$6.10.0%67.2%
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Kyrgyz Republic$6.00.0%47.0%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฉ Moldova$5.60.0%35.1%
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ฉ Chad$5.40.0%43.2%
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ผ Kuwait$5.40.0%3.4%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ท Mauritania$5.10.0%49.5%
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡น Haiti$5.10.0%19.6%
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡พ Guyana$4.90.0%29.9%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ช Montenegro$4.60.0%65.8%
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฏ Fiji$4.60.0%83.6%
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ฒ Turkmenistan$4.20.0%5.1%
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ฏ Tajikistan$4.00.0%33.5%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ผ Botswana$3.90.0%18.7%
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ถ Equatorial Guinea$3.80.0%38.3%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ท Suriname$3.80.0%107.0%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ธ South Sudan$3.80.0%60.4%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡น Bhutan$3.30.0%123.4%
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ผ Aruba$3.20.0%82.9%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Sierra Leone$3.10.0%88.9%
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ป Cabo Verde$2.90.0%113.1%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฎ Burundi$2.30.0%72.7%
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ท Liberia$2.30.0%52.3%
๐Ÿ‡ฝ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Kosovo$2.20.0%21.3%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Eswatini$2.00.0%42.4%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฟ Belize$1.90.0%59.3%
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡จ Saint Lucia$1.80.0%74.2%
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Gambia$1.70.0%72.3%
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฏ Djibouti$1.60.0%41.8%
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Antigua and Barbuda$1.60.0%80.5%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฒ San Marino$1.50.0%74.0%
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ผ Guinea-Bissau$1.50.0%73.9%
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ธ Lesotho$1.50.0%61.3%
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ฉ Andorra$1.40.0%37.7%
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ซ Central African Republic$1.40.0%50.1%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡จ Seychelles$1.30.0%60.8%
๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡จ Saint Vincent and the Grenadines$0.90.0%86.2%
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ฉ Grenada$0.80.0%60.2%
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Dominica$0.70.0%93.9%
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ณ Saint Kitts and Nevis$0.60.0%53.2%
๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡บ Vanuatu$0.50.0%46.8%
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Comoros$0.50.0%33.3%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡น Sรฃo Tomรฉ and Prรญncipe$0.40.0%58.5%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ง Solomon Islands$0.40.0%22.2%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ณ Brunei Darussalam$0.30.0%2.3%
๐Ÿ‡ผ๐Ÿ‡ธ Samoa$0.30.0%36.2%
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ฑ Timor-Leste$0.30.0%16.4%
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ผ Palau$0.20.0%85.4%
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ด Tonga$0.20.0%41.1%
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Micronesia$0.10.0%12.5%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ญ Marshall Islands$0.10.0%18.1%
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ท Nauru<$0.10.0%29.1%
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Kiribati<$0.10.0%13.1%
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ป Tuvalu<$0.10.0%8.0%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ด Macao SAR<$0.10.0%0.0%
๐ŸŒ World$97,129.8100%93.0%

With $33.2 trillion in government debt, the U.S. makes up over a third of the world total.

Given the increasing debt load, the cost of servicing this debt now accounts for 20% of government spending. It is projected to reach $1 trillion by 2028, surpassing the total spent on defense.

The worldโ€™s third-biggest economy, Japan, has one of the highest debt to GDP ratios, at 255%. Over the last two decades, its national debt has far exceeded 100% of its GDP, driven by an aging population and social security expenses.

In 2023, Egypt faces steep borrowing costs, with 40% of revenues going towards debt repayments. It has the highest debt on the continent.

Like Egypt, several emerging economies are facing strain. Lebanon has been in default since 2020, and Ghana defaulted on the majority of its external debtโ€”debt owed to foreign lendersโ€”in 2022 amid a deepening economic crisis.

Global Debt: A Regional Perspective

How does debt compare on a regional level in 2023?

RegionGross Debt (B)% of World TotalDebt to GDP
North America$36,451.837.5%117.6%
Asia and Pacific$34,257.435.3%92.5%
Europe$20,123.420.7%79.1%
South America$3,164.93.3%77.2%
Africa $1,863.61.9%65.2%
Other/Rest of World$1,269.11.3%31.4%

We can see that North America has both the highest debt and debt to GDP compared to other regions. Just as U.S. debt has ballooned, so has Canadaโ€™sโ€”ranking as the 10th-highest globally in government debt outstanding.

Across Asia and the Pacific, debt levels hover close to North America.

At 3.3% of the global total, South America has $3.2 trillion in debt. As inflation has trended downwards, a handful of governments have already begun cutting interest rates. Overall, public debt levels are projected to stay elevated across the region.

Debt levels have also risen rapidly in Africa, with an average 40% of public debt held in foreign currenciesโ€”leaving it exposed to exchange rate fluctuations. Another challenge is that interest rates are also higher across the region compared to advanced economies, increasing debt-servicing costs.

By 2028, the IMF projects that global public debt will exceed 100% of GDP, hitting levels only seen during the pandemic.

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