Friday, December 04, 2009

For how long?

Steve Benen writes at WaMo:
Based on estimates from the International Monetary Fund, five years from now, China's GDP is expected to grow considerably faster than America's, but by 2014, the U.S. economy is still expected to be double the size of China's.

There's a lot more the U.S. can and should do to position itself for the future, and it's going to take some real leadership (and perhaps a majority-rule Senate) to protect the country's global leadership role.

But is China the world's leading economic power? Not yet, it's not.
This is all in reaction to the news that a plurality of Americans believe China is now the world's leading economic power. In terms of "whose economy is biggest", Steve is correct that China isn't anywhere near the throne yet.

But of course, that's not the only definition of "leading". Long before it was the world's largest economy outright, the US was seeing incredible new inventions flourish in their economy while they languished in the larger but also more staid economies of the Old World. (See telephones, electricity, etc.) Of course, this also depends on whether one counts the entire British Empire as one economy, and all of this gets cloudy when trying to compare historical data.

Example: This wikipedia page (use at my own risk, I know) states that by 1870, the US economy was still smaller than that of the United Kingdom alone, and much smaller than that of the broader British Empire. But by 1870, which country would you have bet on in the next 50 years? (The Civil War was over, the expansion to the west was spreading a human wave over the Great Plains, and the US had just purchased Alaska.) Even more intriguing, Qing China was still larger economically than that of the UK or US -- which of those three had a better time of the future?

Now, it's true that a lot of interesting stuff still happens in the US, and it still has a dynamic economy. But I don't think anyone thinks that the last 2 years have been good for American dominance. And Americans could certainly be forgiven for thinking that somewhere, a baton has been passed.


Курительные миксы said...

If the world is now ruled by America, then in the future it will be - China

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