Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Just How Rich is the United States?

To say you have a 11.5 trillion dollar a year economy is generally meaningless to most folks...11.5 trillion is too large a number for most people to comprehend.

In order to make sense of the number I have typically resorted to comparing the US economic output to the remaining countries of the world.

The US accounts for half of the globes economic production while having only about 5% of the population...This means that the United States alone is as rich as the sum of the GDPs of all remaining 191 countries. Or conversely if the worlds population was 100 people. 5 Americans would produce as much as the remaining 95 people.

I think the link below is a better way to communicate this idea. The writer compares each of the 50 US States output to a country's GDP. It shows starkly the absolute economic primacy of the United States.

Just look at the major countries that are equal to the production of some US States.

Canada= Texas, France = California, Saudi Arabia =Tennessee, Israel = Oregon etc.

2 Comments:

Blogger Dr. Idiot said...

Fascinating stuff.

If you accept the "law of the conservation of mass", whatever you create has to have come from something...so despite the fact that this law applies to physics and chemistry, I have to believe that there is some applicability in economics as well.

So using this "logic", flawed perhaps as it may be, one could argue that US' productivity and wealth creation has come at the cost of natural resource depletion, not just in the continental US, but also around the world. Whether we are talking about bauxite strip-mines in Australia that produce aluminium ore, or the oil wells in the Persian Gulf, or the depletion of old-growth forests in the US, an enormous amount of natural resources have been sucked into the US to "plan, create or manage" wealth.

I read once that despite only having 5% of the world's population, the US accounts for 80% of the natural resource consumption on the planet. I have no idea how true that statement is, and it is loaded with political baggage, but it may be worth following up on...

Also, I am not saying that this is the "fault" per se of US policy. But just as a burning fire absorbs all the oxygen from its surrounding environment, the US economy has been a burning fire that has absorbed its fuel from everywhere and anywhere it can get it. That's not the fire's fault, it is just its nature...- now see Aesop's Fable about the scorpion who persuades a frog to take him across the river... :-)

Ravee

1:39 PM  
Blogger Rao said...

Great stuff.

btw- Check http://www.gapminder.org

It presents similar kind of info - in a visual manner

Regs

Gautam Rao - Chennai

12:25 AM  

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