Late August can be a tough time to find something interesting to discuss in international finance.  It is particularly difficult this year, with markets in sleep mode after overindulging on volatility from June’s Brexit vote and Fed rate moves stagnant for at least a few weeks if not the balance of the year. 

So what else is there to talk about this week – except sports?

This is a financial commentary, but in a valiant attempt to sneak in a little sports with our finance, let’s talk about Brazil, the Olympics and all those medals being won by the athletes.

The medals for the Rio 2016 games are produced by the Brazilian mint.

In case you’ve been wondering, today’s gold medals are not actually made of pure gold. The last time they were made of gold was way back at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm. 

Rio’s champions may not be happy to hear this, but Olympic gold medals are actually made mostly of silver, with gold plating on top, according to the Crookston Times.

With silver prices going up, if you look at the value of an Olympic medal in pure silver commodity terms, an Olympic “gold” medal is worth about $565 right now, due to its silver content. 

By the way, if Olympic gold medals actually were pure gold, they would be worth over $21,000 at today’s prices. Both gold and silver have increased in price this year – with gold up 26 percent and silver up a whopping 43 percent. 

The 2016 silver medals actually are mostly made of silver, including 30 percent recycled silver. Believe it or not, recycled silver could mean that someone’s old car parts and mirrors are mixed up in the Olympic silver medals.

The estimated value of an Olympic silver medal prize is $315. 

How about the 2016 bronze medals? They are mostly made of copper, which is plentiful and cheap in South America.

The commodity value of a bronze medal is about $2.38. But at least that’s better than the fourth place medal, which doesn’t exist.

My View: Of course we all know that the true value of an Olympic triumph is not the commodities in the medals – or even in the marketing gigs and licensing contracts that a few will enjoy after the games. It’s in fulfilling the years of training that these incredible athletes put in and have been demonstrating to the world for the past two weeks in Rio.

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