Visualizing the Coming Shift in Global Economic Power (2006-2036p)
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Visualizing the Coming Shift in Global Economic Power (2006-2036p)

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Visualizing the Coming Shift in Global Economic Power (2006-2036p)

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Visualizing the Shift in Global Economic Power

As the post-pandemic recovery chugs along, the global economy is set to see major changes in the coming decades. Most significantly, China is forecast to pass the United States to become the largest economy globally.

The world’s economic center has long been drifting from Europe and North America over to Asia. This global shift was kickstarted by lowered trade barriers and greater economic freedom, which attracted foreign direct investment (FDI). Another major driving factor was the improvements in infrastructure and communications, and a general increase in economic complexity in the region.

Our visualization uses data from the 13th edition of World Economic League Table 2022, a forecast published by the Center for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).

When Will China Become the Largest Economic Power?

China is expected to surpass the U.S. by the year 2030. A faster than expected recovery in the U.S. in 2021, and China’s struggles under the “Zero-COVID” policies have delayed the country taking the top spot by about two years.

China has maintained its positive GDP growth due to the stability provided by domestic demand. This has proven crucial in sustaining the country’s economic growth. China’s fiscal and economic policy had focused on this prior to the pandemic over fears of growing Western trade restrictions.

India is Primed for the #3 Spot

India is expected to become the third largest country in terms of GDP with $10.8 trillion projected in 2031.

Looking back, India had a GDP of just $949 billion in 2006. Fast forward to today and India’s GDP has more than tripled, reaching $3.1 trillion in 2022. Over the next 15 years, it’s expected to triple yet again. What is behind this impressive growth?

For starters, the country’s economy had a lot more room to improve than other nations. Demographics are also working in the country’s favor. While the median age in many mature economies is shooting up, India has a youthful workforce. In fact, India’s median age is a full 20 years lower than Japan, which is currently the third largest economy.

Over the last 60 years, the service industry has boomed to around 55% of India’s GDP. Telecommunications, software, and IT generate most of the revenue in this sector. IT alone produces 10% of the country’s GDP. India’s large tech-savvy, English-speaking workforce has proved attractive for international companies like Intel, Google, Meta, Microsoft, IBM, and many others, while the domestic startup scene continues to boom.

The Indian government is also pursuing “production-linked incentives” (i.e. subsidies) for multinational companies looking to diversify their production away from China. If these incentives prove successful, more of the world’s solar panels and smartphones will be produced within India’s borders.

How Will the Global Economy Look in 2031?

By the year 2031, there will be major changes in the global economic power rankings.

As we said before: China will have become the world’s largest economy in terms of GDP and India will be the world’s third largest economy. Let’s also take a look at the top 10 economies by 2031.

Out of the top five economies, three are located in Asia: China, India, and Japan⁠—a clear demonstration of how economic power is shifting towards large population centers in Asia.

Europe will have four countries in the top 10: Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and Italy. From South America, only Brazil appears in the top 10.

Under these projections, Russia sits outside the top 10 in 2031. Of course, it remains to be seen how crushing sanctions and global isolation will affect the economic trajectory of the country.

Now, the big question. Is it inevitable that China takes the top spot in the global economy as predicted by this forecast? The truth is that nothing is guaranteed. Other projections have modeled reasonable alternative scenarios for China’s economy. A debt crisis, international isolation, or a shrinking population could keep China’s economy in second place for longer than expected.

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Energy

Explainer: What Drives Gasoline Prices?

Gasoline prices across the U.S. have reached record-highs. Why? This graphic helps explain what factors influence the cost of gasoline.

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What Drives Gasoline Prices?

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Across the United States, the cost of gas has been a hot topic of conversation lately, as prices reach record-breaking highs.

The national average now sits at $5.00 per gallon, and by the end of summer, this figure could grow to $6 per gallon, according to estimates by JPMorgan.

But before we can have an understanding of what’s happening at the pump, it’s important to first know what key factors influence gasoline prices.

This graphic, using data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), outlines the main components that influence gasoline prices, providing each factor’s proportional impact on price.

The Four Main Factors

According to the EIA, there are four main factors that influence the price of gas:

  • Crude oil prices (54%)
  • Refining costs (14%)
  • Taxes (16%)
  • Distribution, and marketing costs (16%)

More than half the cost of filling your tank is influenced by the price of crude oil. Meanwhile, the rest of the price at the pump is split fairly equally between refining costs, marketing and distribution, and taxes.

Let’s look at each factor in more depth.

Crude Oil Prices

The most influential factor is the cost of crude oil, which is largely dictated by international supply and demand.

Despite being the world’s largest oil producer, the U.S. remains a net importer of crude oil, with the majority coming from Canada, Mexico, and Saudi Arabia. Because of America’s reliance on imports, U.S. gas prices are largely influenced by the global crude oil market.

A number of geopolitical factors can influence the crude oil market, but one of the biggest influences is the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), led by Saudi Arabia.

Established in 1960, OPEC was created to combat U.S. dominance of the global oil market. OPEC sets production targets for its 13 member countries, and historically, oil prices have been linked to changes in OPEC production. Today, OPEC countries are responsible for about 60% of internationally traded petroleum.

Refining Costs

Oil needs to be refined into gasoline before it can be used by consumers, which is why refining costs are factored into the price of gas.

The U.S. has hundreds of refineries across the country. The country’s largest refinery, owned by the Saudi Arabian company ​​Saudi Aramco, processes around 607,000 barrels of oil per day.

The exact cost of refining varies, depending on a number of factors such as the type of crude oil used, the processing technology available at the refinery, and the gasoline requirements in specific parts of the country.

In general, refining capacity in the U.S. has not been keeping up with oil demand. Several refineries shut down throughout the pandemic, but even before COVID-19, refining capacity in the U.S. was lagging behind demand. Incredibly, there haven’t been any brand-new refining facilities built in the country since 1977.

Taxes

In the U.S., taxes also play a critical role in determining the price of gas.

Across America, the average gasoline tax is $0.57 per gallon, however, the exact amount fluctuates from state to state. Here’s a look at the top five states with the highest gas taxes:

RankStateGas tax (per gallon)
1California$0.87
2Illinois$0.78
3Pennsylvania$0.77
4Hawaii$0.77
5New Jersey$0.69

*Note: figures include both state and federal tax

States with high gas taxes usually spend the extra money on improvements to their infrastructure or local transportation. For instance, Illinois doubled its gas taxes in 2019 as part of a $45 billion infrastructure plan.

California, the state with the highest tax on gas, is expecting to see a rate increase this July, which will drive gas prices up by around three cents per gallon.

Distribution and Marketing Costs

Lastly, the costs of distribution and marketing have an impact on the price of gas.

Gasoline is typically shipped from refineries to local terminals via pipelines. From there, the gasoline is processed further to ensure it meets market requirements or local government standards.

Gas stations then distribute the final product to the consumer. The cost of running a gas station varies—some gas stations are owned and operated by brand-name refineries like Chevron, while others are smaller-scale operations owned by independent merchants.

The big-name brands run a lot of advertisements. According to Morning Consult, Chevron, BP PLC, Exxon Mobil Corp., and Royal Dutch Shell PLC aired TV advertisements in the U.S. more than 44,495 times between June 1, 2020, and Aug. 31, 2021.

How Does the Russia-Ukraine Conflict Impact U.S. Gas Prices?

If only a fraction of America’s oil comes from Russia, why is the Russia-Ukraine conflict impacting prices in the U.S.?

Because oil is bought and sold on a global commodities market. So, when countries imposed sanctions on Russian oil, that put a squeeze on global supply, which ultimately drove up prices.

This supply shock could keep prices high for a while unless the U.S. falls into a recession, which is a growing possibility based on how recent data is trending.

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Markets

Ranked: Visualizing the Largest Trading Partners of the U.S.

U.S. trade of goods amounted to nearly $4.6 trillion in 2021, and Canada, Mexico, and China were the country’s biggest trading partners.

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Ranked: The Largest Trading Partners of the U.S.

The U.S. economy grew 5.7% in 2021, the fastest pace since 1984, bouncing back from the economic downturn created by the pandemic. But as supply chain issues reared their head and international restrictions came in and out of play, how did the country’s trade situation shape up?

America’s trade deficit of goods shot up to a whopping record $1.1 trillion in 2021 from $922 billion in 2020, leading to its largest ever deficit. Imports dwarfed exports, reaching new highs of $2.9 trillion in 2021, while U.S. exports to other countries added up to $1.8 trillion.

Using the latest data on international trade from the U.S. Census Bureau, we’ve visualized the flow of America’s annual imports and exports for selected countries. The difference between the two measures is the country’s trade deficit for goods.

Who Does the U.S. Trade Most With?

In 2021, U.S trade of goods amounted to nearly $4.6 trillion and Canada, Mexico, and China were America’s largest trading partners. Those three countries alone combined for a total trade of $1.9 trillion, equal to about 41% of all trade of goods.

Let’s take a look at the 10 countries that trade the most with the United States:

RankU.S. Trade PartnersGoods Imports
(in billion U.S. dollars)
Goods Exports
(in billion U.S. dollars)
Total Trade
(in billion U.S. dollars)
#1🇨🇦 Canada$357.2$307.6$664.8
#2🇲🇽 Mexico$384.7$276.5$661.2
#3🇨🇳 China$506.4$151.1$657.5
#4🇯🇵 Japan$135.1$75.0$210.1
#5🇩🇪 Germany$135.2$65.2$200.4
#6🇰🇷 South Korea$95$65.8$160.8
#7🇬🇧 United Kingdom$56.4$61.5$117.9
#8🇹🇼 Taiwan$77.1$36.9$114
#9🇮🇳 India$73.3$40.1$113.4
#10🇻🇳 Vietnam$101.9$10.9$112.8
Total$2.85 Trillion$1.76 Trillion$4.61 Trillion

From a geographic perspective, the two largest trading partners are based in North America (Canada and Mexico). Meanwhile, six of the top 10 are based in Asia.

Which Countries Does the U.S. Have the Largest Trade Deficit With?

The largest trade deficit is undoubtedly with China, which accounts for more than 32% of the U.S. trade deficit in goods.

The $355 billion deficit with China comes from importing $506 billion in goods such as machinery, furniture, and bedding. Interestingly, many of those imports are made by American companies who outsource their production to China. These outsourcing activities are counted as imports even though they create profit for these U.S. companies.

Below we order U.S. trade partners by trade deficit of goods:

RankU.S. Trade PartnersGoods Trade Deficit
(in billion U.S. dollars)
#1🇨🇳 China$355.3
#2🇲🇽 Mexico$108.2
#3🇻🇳 Vietnam$91.0
#4🇩🇪 Germany$70.1
#5🇯🇵 Japan $60.2
#6🇮🇪 Ireland$60.2
#7🇨🇦 Canada$49.5
#8🇲🇾 Malaysia$41.0
#9🇹🇼 Taiwan$40.2
#10🇮🇹 Italy$39.3
Total Deficit$1.09 Trillion

The second largest U.S. trade deficit is with Mexico with $108 billion. The main imports from Mexico are cars, trucks, and auto parts. On the other side, the main exports are auto parts and petroleum products.

How Does a Trade Deficit Affect the U.S. Economy?

The U.S. has been running trade deficits since the late 1970s, so these latest numbers are a continuation of a long-term trend. Are these trade deficits a bad thing? The simple, unsatisfying answer is, it depends.

When any country spends more money on imports than it makes on exports, it must somehow make up the shortfall. Typically, this means takes the form of borrowing from foreign lenders or allowing foreign investment in domestic assets. In the U.S., the trade imbalance with China is a sore point, as millions of jobs in manufacturing have been lost due to offshoring in recent decades.

That said, running a trade surplus is no guarantee of strong economic performance. Germany is a prime example of a country with a massive trade surplus, but achieving only modest economic growth in recent years.

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