Is U.S. or China the World’s Economic Superpower?
Popular opinion changes depending on where you live
The Chart of the Week is a weekly Visual Capitalist feature on Fridays.
Since the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the world has had one undisputed economic superpower: the United States.
But while the U.S. has enjoyed its moment in the sun, the balance of power has been slowly shifting towards the inevitable rise of China. It’s been a long time coming, but China now has the manpower, influence, and economic might to compete at a similar level – and if you ask people around the world, they’ve certainly taken notice.
But which one is perceived as the more dominant economic power?
According to a recent survey by Pew Research Center, the vary wildly depending on the people and country surveyed. However, on an aggregate level that uses the results from the people in 38 countries surveyed, Pew determined that a median of 42% of people list the United States as the world’s leading economic power, while 32% name China as top dog.
Which one of the following do you think is the world’s leading economic power?
|Rank||Country||Global median (%)|
|#3||Countries of the EU||9%|
|#5||Other / None||10%|
While the U.S. maintains a narrow lead in aggregate, things get much more interesting when we look at individual countries.
Do America’s closest allies view it as the clear global superpower? What about the countries that neighbor China – surely, they must witness China’s economic might firsthand.
Weirdly, the dominant perspectives in these places are not as obvious as one would think.
More people living in Canada, Australia, and major European countries like France, Germany, Sweden, Spain, and the United Kingdom tend to view China as the global economic superpower.
Meanwhile, the majority of people in South American and African countries see the United States as the world’s major economic power – and people in countries near China (such as South Korea, Japan, Philippines, Indonesia, and Vietnam) all tend to agree with that sentiment as well.
The Best and Worst Performing Wealth Markets in the Last 10 Years
This telling chart shows how national wealth markets have changed over the past decade, highlighting the biggest winners and losers.
The Best and Worst Performing Wealth Markets
A lot can change in a decade.
Ten years ago, the collapse of Lehman Brothers sent the world’s financial markets into a tailspin, a catalyst for years of economic uncertainty.
At the same time, China’s robust GDP growth was reaching a fever pitch. The country was turning into a wealth creation machine, creating millions of newly-minted millionaires who would end up having a huge impact on wealth markets around the world.
The Ups and Downs of Wealth Markets (2008-2018)
Today’s graphic, using data from the Global Wealth Migration Review, looks at national wealth markets, and how they’ve changed since 2008.
Each wealth market is calculated from the sum of individual assets within the jurisdiction, accounting for the value of cash, property, equity, and business interests owned by people in the country. Just like other kinds of markets, wealth can grow or shrink over time.
Here are a few countries and regions that stand out in the report:
Developing Asian Economies
In terms of sheer wealth growth, nothing comes close to countries like China and India. The size of these markets, combined with rapid economic growth, have resulted in triple-digit gains over the last 10 years.
For the world’s two most populous countries, it’s a trend that is expected to continue into the next decade, despite the fact that many millionaire residents are migrating to different jurisdictions.
European nations saw very little growth over the past decade, but the Mediterranean region was particularly hard-hit. In fact, eight of the 20 worst performing wealth markets over the last decade are located along the Mediterranean coast:
|Rank (Out of 90)||Country||% Growth (2008-2018)|
European Bright Spots
There were some bright spots in Europe during this same time period. Malta, Ireland, and Monaco all achieved positive wealth growth at rates higher than 30% over the last 10 years.
While it’s expected to see rapidly-growing economies as prolific producers of wealth, it is much more surprising when mature markets perform so strongly. Singapore and New Zealand fall under that category, as does Australia, which was already a large, mature wealth market.
Australia recently surpassed both Canada and France to become the seventh largest wealth market in the world, and last year alone, over 12,000 millionaires migrated there.
The long-term economic slide of Venezuela has been well documented, and it comes as no surprise that the country saw extreme contraction of wealth over the last decade. Since war-torn countries are not included in the report, Venezuela ranked 90th, which is dead-last on a global basis.
Short Term, Long Term
In 2018, global wealth actually slumped by 5%, dropping from $215 trillion to $204 trillion.
All 90 countries tracked by the report experienced negative growth in wealth, as global stock and property markets dipped. Here’s a look at the wealth markets that were the hardest hit over the past year:
|Wealth Market||Wealth growth (2017 -2018)|
The future outlook is rosier. Global wealth is expected to rise by 43% over the next decade, reaching $291 trillion by 2028. If current trends play out as expected, Vietnam could likely top this list a decade from now with a staggering 200% growth rate.
Animation: The Biggest Economies in 2030
By 2030, the complexion of the global economy could look very different. This animation shows how the world’s biggest economies will change over time.
By 2030, the complexion of the global economy could look very different than it does today.
According to recent projections from Standard Chartered, a multinational bank headquartered in London, the next decade will see emerging markets like India and Turkey ascending the global economic ladder to become tomorrow’s powerhouses.
Visualizing the Boom in Emerging Markets
Today’s animation is based on a previous chart of the week we created that shows how economic growth is expected to unfold in the coming years.
View the projected change in rankings for the biggest economies from 2017 to 2030 below:
If the projections used in the above video prove to be accurate, the largest economy in 2030 will be China with $64.2 trillion in GDP after adjusting for purchasing power parity (PPP).
That’s nearly $20 trillion more than India, which will be the second largest by that time.
From Good to Great
While the sheer size of the Chinese economy is certainly an exclamation point, perhaps the more interesting story here is the ascent of developing markets in general.
By 2030, it’s projected that seven of the world’s 10 biggest economies will fall into that category:
|Rank||Country||Proj. GDP (2030, PPP)||GDP (2017, PPP)||% change|
|#1||China||$64.2 trillion||$23.2 trillion||+177%|
|#2||India||$46.3 trillion||$9.5 trillion||+387%|
|#3||United States||$31.0 trillion||$19.4 trillion||+60%|
|#4||Indonesia||$10.1 trillion||$3.2 trillion||+216%|
|#5||Turkey||$9.1 trillion||$2.2 trillion||+314%|
|#6||Brazil||$8.6 trillion||$3.2 trillion||+169%|
|#7||Egypt||$8.2 trillion||$1.2 trillion||+583%|
|#8||Russia||$7.9 trillion||$4.0 trillion||+98%|
|#9||Japan||$7.2 trillion||$5.4 trillion||+33%|
|#10||Germany||$6.9 trillion||$4.2 trillion||+64%|
Over this timeframe, countries like Egypt, China, India, Indonesia, Turkey, and Brazil will all see their economies expand with triple-digit growth in PPP terms.
In particular, India’s economy will be buoyed by rapid population growth in its cities, which are some of the fastest-growing urban areas on the planet. At the same time, Egypt’s economy is expected to grow from $1.2 trillion to $8.2 trillion according to the bank – although we would add that this seems quite optimistic.
Finally, developed economies like the United States, Germany, and Japan will keep growing – but just not at the blistering pace of developing countries. If these projections turn out, the Japanese and German economies will round out the list with the #9 and #10 spots, respectively.
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