Olympic-sized debts

The guys over at BondVigilante.com decided to have some fun with the Olympics. With the United States and China dominating the medal counts, it really wouldn't make any difference. Nonetheless, considering the size of national debts in many European countries, Mathew Russell figured out just how many gold medals each country would need to pay that debt off. With 302 total gold medals available, most probably will have to look beyond Rio 2016 to even put a dent in the debt. Here's what Russell figures:

Rough cost of the Olympics – £9bn, US national debt – $15.8tn, Quantitative easing – £375bn. These numbers blow my mind. I know they’re big but I don’t really have a concept of how big. So I thought I’d try and put them into some context. I took a look at the national debt of the Euro’s peripheral countries and calculated how many gold medals each country would need to win to pay off their debts.

Of the 412 grams that a London 2012 gold medal weighs roughly 6 grams are gold, 381 are silver and the remaining 25 copper. Giving a market price today of about $700.

Below is a table of how many gold medals each country would have to win to get themselves out of the red:

Gold medals needed:
Portugal – 273,728,118
Ireland – 220,449,211
Italy – 3,445,899,490
Greece – 627,153,707
Spain – 1,295,304,783

That works out to each member of the population needing to win the following:

Gold medals needed per person:
Portugal – 26
Ireland – 48
Italy – 57
Greece – 56
Spain – 28

That there are only 302 possible medal events in the entire competition makes this pretty depressing reading for our European friends, especially given where they are sitting the medals table (as I type). If it makes you feel any better every US citizen would have to win 73 gold medals to get them out of their hole.

About the Author
Michael McFarlin

Michael McFarlin joined Futures in 2010 after graduating summa cum laude from Trinity International University, where he majored in English/Communication. With the launch of the new web platform, Michael serves as web editor for the site and will continue to work on the magazine, where he focuses on the Markets and Trading 101 features. He also served as a member of the Wisconsin National Guard from 2007 to 2010. mmcfarlin@futuresmag.com

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