MONEY women

10 Countries That Put Women on Cash Before the U.S.

The U.S. lags far behind several other nations when it comes to recognizing female leaders on paper currency.

As a campaign to get a woman on the $20 bill picks up steam, you might be surprised to learn just how far behind the times the United States is compared with other countries.

At least 10 other nations have already recognized female leaders on their banknotes, including Syria, the Philippines, and Israel.

Click through the gallery below to see which countries made the list. Then take MONEY’s poll to vote on the woman you’d most like to see on American currency. If you need inspiration, check out WomenOn20s official site to learn more about candidates like Susan B. Anthony, Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisholm, and Sojourner Truth.

Read next: VOTE: Who Should Be the First Woman on a Modern Dollar Bill?

  • Syria

    Queen Zenobia
    Khaled Al-Hariri—Reuters/Corbis

    Syria’s current image is that of a nation wracked by civil war and struggling against the violent militant group ISIS. But it outpaced the United States on one sign of social progress: recognizing women on official currency.

    Syrian Queen Zenobia, known for fighting back against Roman colonizers in the second century AD, appears on the 500-pound note.

     

  • Philippines

    Philipine 500 and 1000 peso notes
    Edwin Tuyay—Bloomberg via Getty Images

    During the mid-1980s, the Philippines introduced a 500-peso note featuring prominent senator Benigno Aquino Jr., who had been assassinated in 1983. His wife, Corazon Aquino, went on to become the first female president of the Philippines—and the first female president in Asia, for that matter—and her image was added to the bill after she died in 2009. Early 20th-century suffragette Josefa Llanes Escoda also appears (alongside two men) on the 1000-peso note.

  • Turkey

    Nick Fielding—Alamy

    In Turkey, the current 50-lira note features turn-of-the-century novelist and women’s rights activist Fatma Aliye Topuz on its reverse side. (The first president of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, appears on the front of every bill.)

  • Mexico

    500 Mexican pesos notes on a table with traditional Mexican ornament. The note has the portrait of the painter Diego Riviera on one side and Frida Kahlo on the other.
    Daniel Sambraus—Getty Images

    Mexico’s 500-peso note shows muralist Diego Rivera on the front and his wife and fellow artist Frida Kahlo on the back. Her image is a 1940 self-portrait, alongside a famous painting of hers from 1949, “Love’s Embrace of the Universe, the Earth (Mexico), Myself, Diego and Señor Xólotl.” Seventeenth-century Mexican writer Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz appears on the 200-peso note.

  • Argentina

    Eva Peron (1919-1952) on 2 Pesos 2001 Banknote from Argentina. Second wife of President Juan Peron.
    Georgios Kollidas—Alamy

    Argentina’s beloved former First Lady Eva Perón—widely known by her nickname “Evita”—appears on the current 100-peso bill. The 20-peso note depicts 19th-century Argentine political activist Manuela Rosas along with her father, politician Juan Manuel de Rosas.

  • New Zealand

    New Zealand 10 Ten Dollar Bank Note
    Glyn Thomas—Alamy

    Like many other former British colonies, New Zealand features Queen Elizabeth II on its currency—the 20-dollar note to be precise. But Kiwi banknotes also honor suffragette Kate Sheppard, who in 1893 helped New Zealand become the first country in the world with universal voting rights for both men and women. Her image appears on the 10-dollar bill.

  • Israel

    Wikimedia Commons A portrait of Israeli poet Rachel Bluwstein, who lived from 1890 to 1931.

    The Bank of Israel recently announced that it will be adding images of two female Israeli writers to forthcoming 20- and 100-New Shekel banknotes, respectively. The former will feature turn-of-the-century poet Rachel Bluwstein, and the latter author, poet, and literary expert Leah Goldberg, who died in 1970.

  • Sweden

    Artwork showing the designs of new folding Swedish krona, or kronor, currency notes due to be issued in 2014 stands on display at the Riksbank in Stockholm, Sweden, on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013.
    Bloomberg via Getty Images—Bloomberg via Getty Images

    Imagery on the krona celebrates several women in Sweden’s history. Currently there’s Selma Lagerlöf—the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature—on the 20-krona note, as well as 19th-century opera singer Jenny Lind on the 50-krona bill. Starting this fall, a new line of banknotes will feature Pippi Longstocking author Astrid Lindgren on the 20-krona, 20th-century soprano Birgit Nilsson on the 500-krona, and classic film actress Greta Garbo on the 100-krona note.

  • Australia

    An Australian one-hundred dollar banknote
    Carla Gottgens—Bloomberg via Getty Images Dame Nellie Melba on the Australian 100-dollar banknote

    Australia has one woman on either the front or back of every banknote currently in circulation. They include Queen Elizabeth II on the front of the $5 bill, social reformer and writer Dame Mary Gilmore on the back of the $10, 19th-century businesswoman Mary Reibey on the front of the $20, politician and social worker Edith Cowan on the back of the $50, and turn-of-the-century soprano Dame Nellie Melba on the front of the $100 note.

  • England

    Jane Austen to feature on banknote. Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, with the ten pound note featuring Jane Austen at the Jane Austen House Museum in Chawton, near Alton. The Austen note will be issued within a year of the Churchill £5 note, which is targeted for issue during 2016.
    Chris Ratcliffe—PA Wire/Press Association Images The new Jane Austen £10 note will look like this.

    If featuring women on currency were a contest, the Bank of England would win, with every note since 1960 depicting Queen Elizabeth II on the front. Past bills featured nurse and statistician Florence Nightingale on the back, current 5-pound notes show 19th-century social reformer Elizabeth Fry, and the next 10-pound bill will celebrate famed 19th-century author Jane Austen.

TIME feminism

The Campaign to Get a Woman on the $20 Bill Is Picking Up Steam

W20 Elizabeth Cady Stanton on the $20

Andrew Jackson better watch his back

Andrew Jackson has been sitting pretty on the $20 bill for 87 years—and one group thinks it’s time he gave his spot to a woman.

W20’s campaign to get a woman on the $20 is picking up some serious internet traction.”I knew this would take off, but I didn’t know it would take off this fast,” says Susan Ades Stone, a journalist and editor who helped organize the campaign. “The response has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic.”

More than 72,000 people have voted in the online poll of 15 potential replacements for Jackson, including Susan B. Anthony, Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisholm, and Sojourner Truth (the full list is available here.) Ades says the competition has narrowed to a “very close race” but won’t say who’s in the lead.

On Wednesday, the New York Times published multiple pieces from different prominent women about who they’d like to see on the $20 bill. Gloria Steinem argued for Sojourner Truth, while Roxane Gay argued for Margaret Sanger.

“We stuck very closely to this rubric of evaluating every candidate by the breadth of their impact: how transformational was their contribution?” Ades explained. “And the other factor we asked people to consider were ‘what were the challenges these people faced?’”

The idea of getting a woman on the $20 started when Ades’ fellow organizer Barbara Ortiz Howard realized one day that her daughter had no everyday reminders of famous women in history. “Part of the mission, besides getting a woman on the $20 bill, is to educate as many people as possible about as many women as possible,” Ades says. “We want to see how many people we can reach.”

More: If Women Had Their Own Currency, Here’s What It Would Be Worth

While most people love the idea, the reaction hasn’t been universally positive. Some internet commenters argue that, because of Jackson’s abysmal treatment of Native Americans during his presidency, a Native American should replace him on the $20 bill. Ades said that female Cherokee chief Wilma Mankiller was in the original pool of 30 candidates, but when the ballot was narrowed to 15 candidates, she did not make the cut. Still, Ades says, “we’re listening,” and on Wednesday morning the group announced that Mankiller would be on the final ballot of four candidates.

Ultimately, the decision about whether to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill is up to the Treasury Secretary, but Secretary Lew is unlikely to make a change without the President’s approval. But there’s hope: last year, when a little girl asked Obama why there weren’t any women on U.S. currency and provided a list of good candidates, he said adding a woman was a “pretty good idea.”

“We wanted this to be a grassroots movement, we wanted it to come from the people, and we wanted this to be a referendum,” Ades says. “It’s up to the President to decide what to do.”

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: March 16

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. There are no winners in a currency war, either. Here’s why the U.S. is carrying the burden of the global recovery.

By Mark Gilbert in Bloomberg News

2. Despite slow and censored Internet and the weakest mobile phone penetration in Latin America, Cuba is the land of opportunity for daring tech investors.

By Ramphis Castro in Re/code

3. Anyone with a smartphone can become a mobile environmental monitoring station.

By Brian Handwerk in Smithsonian Magazine

4. Permanent, easily accessible criminal records are holding back too many Americans. It’s time to “ban the box.”

By Ruth Graham in the Boston Globe

5. Autism Village is an app that helps families find autism-friendly businesses.

By Olga Khazan in The Atlantic

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

MONEY Currency

How the Cheap Euro Is Hurting Your Investments

150312_INV_WeakEuroInvest
Dieter Spannknebel—Getty Images

The plunging euro may be good for U.S. consumers. But it has all but wiped out returns of foreign stock mutual funds.

A weak euro could make it cheaper to take that long-planned trip to Paris. Just don’t sell your foreign-stock mutual funds to pay for it.

On Wednesday, the euro hit a 12-year low against the dollar—it’s getting close to $1-to-€1 parity (so figuring the exchange rate on that trip will be easier too.) The currency is tanking thanks in part to a weak European economy, as well as the European Central Bank’s efforts to stimulate growth with looser monetary policy.

Unless you are frequent currency trader, these exchange-rate ups and down may feel pretty remote from your portfolio. But they’re not. If you hold a foreign-stock mutual fund in your 401(k) or IRA, you will have significant exposure to European stocks. And since those stocks are denominated in euros, their value to a typical American investor has taken a hit.

Consider: Over the past year, the MSCI All-Cap World EX-USA index is up 14.6% in local currency terms through Feb. 28. But according to Morningstar, the average foreign stock mutual fund—with roughly half its assets in Europe —has pretty much sucked wind, falling 0.06%.

What gives?

Just as the falling dollar makes European hotel rooms and airplane tickets relatively cheaper when their euro-based prices are translated into dollars, foreign stocks get knocked down in dollar terms too. When a U.S. mutual fund calculates its value at the end of the day, it converts the euro price of European stock back into dollars. So if the euro is falling fast enough, you can see loss in dollars even if the stock is climbing on the local stock exchange.

The same effect holds for bonds, or any other asset traded in another currency.

To be sure, it is possible for canny fund managers to use financial instruments, such as futures contracts, to “hedge” away currency fluctuations. Some do exactly that. Pimco, for instance, offers both hedged version of its foreign bond fund (up 10.8% over the past 12 months) and an unhedged version (down 5.7%).

Does hedging make sense? With foreign stock funds, the answer is generally no—which is why comparatively few funds do it. It drives up cost, and over the long run currency fluctuations tend to be less important than the economic fundamentals driving stock returns. The Euro’s recent plunge may be dramatic, but it’s also relatively unusual.

It’s slightly more common with bond funds. Vanguard, for instance, hedges the returns of its flagship foreign bond index fund, but not its flagship foreign stock fund. The reason it has given for hedging bonds: Since the underlying returns of bonds are usually fairly steady, currency fluctuations can an have outsized impact on your final return.

Of course, whatever the investing strategy you pick, the thing to remember about short-term currency moves is that they are just that, short-term. Think of it this way: When the dollar starts to weaken again, those foreign stocks will look like winners. In the end, holding some funds whose stocks are valued in foreign currencies provides extra diversification, helping smooth the overall return of your portfolio in the long run.

Now, if you can just find another way to fund that trip to Paris.

MONEY Odd Spending

‘Spocking': The Weird Way to Ruin Money and Pay Tribute to Leonard Nimoy

To honor Leonard Nimoy and the iconic character he played on Star Trek, all you need is a $5 Canadian banknote and a black marker.

Sir Wilfrid Laurier was a prime minister in Canada from 1896 to 1911, and his face is featured on the Canadian $5 bill. Apparently, some feel his face also resembles Leonard Nimoy, the instantly recognizable actor who served as Star Trek‘s Spock, and who died last week.

Starting a few years back, someone thought it would be funny to take older versions of Canada’s $5 banknotes and artfully add some black ink to the profile of Laurier—darkening and extending the eyebrow, sharpening up the tip of the ear, scratching in a dark bowl-shaped helmet full of hair—so that the resulting image looked like Spock. (Another version of this game turned Laurier’s mug into Severus Snape from the Harry Potter series.)

Now that Nimoy has passed away, fans of the actor and the highly logical Vulcan he played on TV and the movies are being encouraged to “Spock” their Canadian $5 bills in tribute. The “Spock Your Fives” Facebook page—yes, there is such as thing, founded in 2008—has heralded the “revival” of Spocking Fives. As you’d guess, word of this curious activity has spread on social media, like so:

The parody Twitter account @PMLaurier—yes, there is such a thing—recently wished “Adieu to the great Leonard Nimoy” in a Tweet that showed one of the manipulated bills, noting that he was “Honoured so many Canadians thought we looked alike and would ‘Spock’ their $5 bills.”

As for where and how, exactly, the idea of “Spocking” currency first began, the “Spock Your Fives” Facebook page only has this to say: “The origins of this mysterious tradition are shrouded in secrecy, although it is widely believed to be totally awesome.”

MONEY Currency

Why You Might Not Want to Cheer for a Strong Dollar

Chris Pine in JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT, 2013
Anatoliy Vorobev—©Paramount/Courtesy Everett Col Don't tell Jack Ryan, but a strong buck is a mixed blessing.

On Wednesday, the euro fell to a near 12-year low against the dollar. That makes foreign vacations cheaper, but selling things to foreigners harder.

The U.S. dollar has strengthened against pretty much every major currency over the past year. That feels like good news—and in some ways it is. It means that investors worldwide are betting that the U.S. economy is strong; it’s also nice if you’ve been planning a get-away to the French countryside.

And intuitively it just feels like a strong U.S. currency is a good thing, and a weak one is bad. Last year, the plot of the action flick Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit turned on a (mild spoiler alert) Dr. Evil-like plot to tank the greenback’s value.

But at this moment a too-strong dollar may be the bigger worry.

That is the context behind all the headlines you may be seeing these days about so-called “currency wars.” In a currency war, countries don’t try to take down other nations’ currencies. Instead, they cut the value of their own currencies, in order to make their products cheaper and stoke demand. When one currency falls, that means somebody else’s currency has to go up. Lately, the U.S. has been that somebody else.

Currency

 

Why is the dollar going up? Central banks around the world, from Europe to Japan to Mexico, have been doing what our own Federal Reserve did following the financial crisis, buying up bonds and aggressively seeking to hold down their interest rates. They’re not only doing this to lower the relative value of their currencies—nobody has actually declared a currency war—but it has had that side effect. With yields on 10-year German bonds at just 0.3%, U.S. Treasuries that are paying almost 2% look like a better deal.

When investors seek to hold U.S. assets, that pushes up the buck too.

And there’s reason to think the dollar will keep getting stronger for a while, says Wells Fargo Securities senior economist Sam Bullard. The U.S. economy looks pretty good right now compared with the rest of the world. The American gross domestic product, for instance, grew by 4.6%, 5%, and 2.6% over the past three quarters, while the eurozone muddled through with growth rates at 0.3% or lower. Our unemployment rate is down to 5.7%, while in the eurozone it is stubbornly stuck over 11%.

As a result, the Federal Reserve has begun to put out hints that it will raise short-term interest rates sometime in 2015, the first increase since the Great Recession. Again, that should make dollar-denominated assets relatively more attractive. And a strong dollar trend could feed on itself—the more stable the dollar looks, the more people will want to to invest in the U.S. “Investing over here if you’re foreign company committing capital is more attractive since returns will get translated into your home currency at a more favorable rate,” says Bob Landry, a portfolio manager at USAA Investments.

Still, whenever there are winners, there are also losers.

Who’s losing out? For a start, multinational corporations with significant businesses overseas. Procter & Gamble and its shareholders, for instance, endured disappointing earnings last year and announced that the consumer goods behemoth doesn’t expect to enjoy sales growth this year due to the dollar’s strength.

A strong dollar generally makes U.S. exports less attractive—consumers with euros and yen are finding our products more expensive. The ISM manufacturing new export orders index fell in January to its lowest level since the fall of 2012. That’s bad news for anyone who works in manufacturing, or any other business that hopes to sell to global markets.

Overall, Bullard says, a strong dollar should be “a net drag on overall GDP in 2015.” Perhaps Jack Ryan could have saved himself the trouble.

MONEY europe

Europe’s Version of the Fed Announces a Big New Stimulus Plan

The symbol of the Euro, the currency of the Eurozone, stands illuminated on January 21, 2015 in Frankfurt, Germany.
Hannelore Foerster—Getty Images The symbol of the euro, the currency of the eurozone, outside the European Central Bank in Frankfurt, Germany.

The European Central Bank just took on its own version of "quantitative easing." Get ready to feel the ripples.

On Thursday European Central Bank president Mario Draghi announced plans to implement a bond buying strategy known as quantitative easing. The ECB, which is the European equivalent of the U.S. Federal Reserve, is hoping to boost the struggling European economy. The Fed implemented a similar effort several years ago.

Under QE, the European bank will buy up tens of billions of euros worth of bonds each month. That should help keep interest rates low and help stave off a worrying trend of falling prices, or deflation.

With the U.S. economy finally humming along, you may be tempted to shrug off the news. But changes in interest rates and prices across the Atlantic quickly ripple across the globe. Here’s how the move could affect you.

It may hold down interest rates and bond yields.

Ever since the Fed cut key interest rates in the wake of the U.S. financial crisis, bond yields have been unusually low. Although many forecasters expect the Fed to begin raising rates in 2015, the ECB’s latest move could keep a lid on how far yields on Treasuries rise.

European bonds already yield considerably less than Treasuries—German government bonds maturing in 10 years pay 0.4%, compared to about 1.9% for Treasuries. If QE continues to depress European yields, more and more buyers are likely to seek out Treasuries, pushing Treasury prices upwards. Bond yields fall when prices rise.

Continued low rates would be good news for borrowers but a mixed bag for investors. Although bonds would lose value when rates begin to rise, many income oriented investors and saver have been frustrated by low payouts, forcing them to hunt for riskier alternatives.

It could further strengthen the dollar.

By buying up bonds, the ECB is essentially creating more euros. On Thursday, the value of the euro fell to $1.16, according to Blommberg. That’s its lowest level in more than a decade. In the long run that should help European companies by making it cheaper for U.S. consumers to buy their goods. But if you own foreign stocks, you’re likely to feel some pain, at least in the short run.

The European stocks you own are denominated in euros, but the value of your account is denominated in dollars. As the dollar rises, a European stock simply isn’t worth as many dollars as it was before, assuming its price in euros didn’t change. The good news is, you don’t need to worry unless you plan to sell right away. In the long run, such currency fluctuations should even out.

The U.S. stock market is happy—for now.

The Dow climbed about 117 points, or 0.7%, to 17,671 in morning trading. While it’s always tricky to interpret stock market ups and downs, it seems likely investors are applauding the ECB’s aggressive action to prevent a deep recession, just as they did over the past several years when the Federal Reserve made similar moves. With the U.S. economy finally humming, the Fed’s strategy seems to have worked. Ultimately the best thing for stock values is to get Europe, a major driver of global growth, back on the same path.

TIME Currency

Bitcoin Continues to Plummet

Newest Innovations In Consumer Technology On Display At 2015 International CES
Ethan Miller — Getty Images A general view of the Bitcoin booth at the 2015 International CES at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Jan. 8, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The digital currency is getting off to a poor start in 2015 after a rough ride last year

The price of Bitcoin dropped again this week, sliding to its lowest level since early 2013, suggesting that confidence in the contentious cryptocurrency may be shrinking.

On Tuesday, the price of Bitcoin dropped from $267 to about $224, sinking below its April 2013 value, which was before its popularity skyrocketed, according to the New York Times.

In the past year, the digital currency has been hit with myriad setbacks including market woes, fresh regulations and stagnation of usage even as transactions have increased, which in part resulted in a more than 50% drop in the price of bitcoin.

[NYT]

TIME Currency

How I Laundered Bitcoins On the Streets of New York

bitcoin-surrounding-many-coins
Getty Images

There are over 1,600 Bitcoin sellers in New York alone and thousands more across the country

This story was originally published at the The Kernel, the Daily Dot’s Sunday magazine.

As I stood on a Brooklyn street corner late at night with one hand gripping a wad of cash in my jacket and the other clutching the smartphone in my pocket, an old memory hit me. The place looked exactly like a street corner where I bought weed once (or maybe twice) in high school.

This time I was making another transaction, one that could also confuse bystanders and get a second look from local police. I was getting ready to buy bitcoins.

There are plenty of other ways to acquire the virtual currency. There are even Bitcoin ATMs in several cities in North America. But sites like LocalBitcoins.com—a Craigslist-inspired directory that brokers real-life transactions for a modest fee—serve a very specific type of clientele, those trying to cash-out their bitcoins or acquire them without tying the transaction to their actual identity, often with the intention of staying on the blindside of the law.

I remember feeling vulnerable back in high school, worrying about being robbed or arrested. A similar weight started to settle in as I waited for the stranger I found online. I knew nothing about him, not even his name or what to look for. He just instructed me to come to this intersection with my smartphone, ready to complete the transaction.

The $160 that I carried wouldn’t even buy me a single Bitcoin, but it’s always best to test the waters with small stakes. The dealer was willing to exchange as much as $5,000 per transaction, and others offer services that double that.

I leaned into a shadow on the gate of a shuttered bodega and checked the time. My seller was late.

Read the rest of the story at The Kernel.

TIME Currency

Hackers Steal $5 Million From Bitcoin Exchange

Breach follows massive hack of Mt. Gox in 2014

A European Bitcoin exchange had about $5 million worth of the cryptocurrency stolen by hackers over the weekend.

The Slovenia-based Bitstamp announced the breach on its website Monday and shut down services temporarily Tuesday in order to investigate the hack. The theft totaled about 19,000 Bitcoin, but hackers were only able to access a small portion of the exchange’s total assets. While some Bitcoins are stored online, many more are kept on local hard drives in what Bitcoin users call “cold storage.”

Bitstamp wrote on its website that it would ensure users’ account balances were “honored in full” despite the breach.

The hack comes less than a year after the collapse of Mt. Gox, the once-massive Bitcoin exchange that lost more than $450 million worth of Bitcoin and then filed for bankruptcy. Bitcoin lost half of its value after Mt. Gox imploded. So far, though, the Bitstamp breach doesn’t seem to have negatively influenced the price of the currency.

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