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The absolute dominance of the U.S. economy, in one chart

Published: Feb 23, 2017 5:55 a.m. ET


By region, Asia outpaces North America and Europe



Markets reporter
The U.S.’s status as an economic superpower is intact, for the time being.

Despite the bleak picture painted by President Donald Trump of the U.S. as a country in disarray, America’s status as an economic superpower is still very much intact, even as China steadily closes the gap.

The U.S. economy, as measured by gross domestic product, is by far the largest in the world at $18.04 trillion. China, the closest thing the U.S. has for a competitor, is No. 2 with a GDP of $11 trillion, while Japan is a distant third with $4.38 trillion.

As the chart by HowMuch.net illustrates, the U.S. accounts for about a quarter of the global economy, nearly 10 percentage points more than China’s 14.84%.

See original chart

Put another way, the U.S. economy is roughly equivalent to the combined gross domestic products of the eight next-biggest countries after China — Japan, Germany, the U.K., France, India, Italy, Brazil and Canada.

However, the narrative shifts when countries are grouped by geography, with Asia clearly in the lead. The region, denoted in yellow in the chart, contributed 33.84% to the global GDP.

“Asia’s economic center of gravity is in the east, with China, Japan and South Korea together generating almost as much GDP as the U.S.,” said Raul Amoros at HowMuch.net.

North America follows Asia at 27.95%, and Europe trails at 21.37%. The three blocs combined represent about 83% of the world’s economic activity.

The chart also highlights the chasm between wealthy and poor countries. South America’s four largest economies — Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and Colombia — only add up to 4% of the global GDP, while Africa’s three biggest — South Africa, Egypt and Nigeria — account for around 1.5%.

Meanwhile, more than 100 economies that were too small to be shown individually were lumped together as “Rest of the World.”

“The ‘Rest of the World’ produces just as much GDP as constitutes the gap between the U.S. and China. That is an awesome indication of the size of America’s advantage over China,” said Amoros.

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Sue Chang

Sue Chang is a MarketWatch reporter in San Francisco. You can follow her on Twitter at @SueChangMW.

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