Actually China Is Probably Already Bigger

Despite the generally loathsome nature of The Economist, it does have its advantages most of which can be reduced to its Daily Charts blog which focuses on statistics as opposed to rhetoric.

According to the chart above, as of 2012 ever more people, especially in the developed world, are starting to believe that the China is the world’s leading economic power. In terms of nominal GDP, and even conventional measures of GDP (PPP), the Krauts are wrong at least for now. However, as per the chart below, China is fast overtaking the US on increasing numbers of metrics by physical volume – steel (1999), CO2 emissions (2006), exports (2007), and manufacturing output, energy consumption, and car sales (2010). Indeed, according to Arvind Subramanian, in PPP terms China already overtook the US back in 2010, and I think this is plausible given that it ties in perfectly with China overtaking the US in so many key categories in that year. Regardless, by 2015 it will become increasingly hard to deny that China has the bigger economy in PPP terms, and soon after in nominal terms too as the yuan massively appreciates against an increasingly devalued dollar.

  • Raphael

    It’s interesting how developing countries, including China, are aware of the current economic reality (China’s GDP is only half that of the USA). This is probably attributable to Chinese humility and a crab mentality among the other developing countries (i.e. they dislike seeing a country that was once “one of them” leapfrog them.) On the other hand, the eagerness of developed Western countries to believe in Chinese economic hegemony probably comes from media hype and fear-mongering.

  • I’m not surprised that Mexicans are still in awe of America’s economic might. Remittances to relatives must amount to a huge share of their economy, there are American tourists, and what are their drug cartels always fighting about? Presumably each other’s share of the US drug market.

    When the Chinese notice “Made in China” on everything in sight, it probably seems natural to them. When I was a kid, almost everything we consumed was made in the USSR. The general attitude to that was “so what?” When Germans, Brits, Americans, etc. notice “made in China” on everything in sight, that makes a huge impression. I wonder how many Chinese products Turkey, Pakistan, India and Brazil import.