The color of money

In addition to green, various shades of grey, yellow, and blue are also quite popular! As a token of my appreciation, I am bringing this beautiful “visual guide to banknotes around the world” by Salman Haqqi to your attention. Among other things, this compendious report contains a visualization of 157 national currencies–from the Afghan Afghani to the Zambian Kwacha–featuring the dominant color of each currency’s £20 banknote or its equivalent. Below is a fragment from Mr Haqqi’s comprehensive compendium of colors:

Screen Shot 2020-06-19 at 7.20.23 PM

In addition, check out the following excerpts from Mr Haqqi’s beautiful report, summarizing his findings:

Our analysis revealed the most common colour used on banknotes is in fact green, with currencies including the aforementioned US Dollar, as well as the Swedish Krona and Uruguayan Peso all featuring various shades.

When it comes to the famous people featured on banknotes, their occupations vary greatly depending on the currency and value of note they appear on. However, our analysis of 1,383 banknotes featuring a person revealed 547 political figures, 320 royals and 153 writers. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, Queen Elizabeth II is the most popular figure on banknotes, having featured on 45 different note designs across 11 countries.)

Kudos to Mr Haqqi and his staff. (Hat tip: The Amazing Tyler Cowen.)

About F. E. Guerra-Pujol

When I’m not blogging, I am a business law professor at the University of Central Florida.
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2 Responses to The color of money

  1. Craig says:

    Green may have an “evolutionary” value as a currency color, as it implies that this piece of paper has not baked in the sun for 10 years, for example, and may still be relevant. However, I’m surprised that nations keep choosing pastels rather than bold colors for their currency. Taking a cue from bird evolution, I would think a bold and colorful currency would speak well of the vitality of its issuer.

    • Excellent points! At the same time, because currency systems are ultimately based on trust, I wonder if the somber colors convey feelings of trust more than bright colors do?

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