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.

The value of investments will fluctuate, which will cause prices to fall as well as rise and you may not get back the original amount you invested. Past performance is not a guide to future performance.

Matthew Russell

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