At least it can be.  The latest examination of global attitudes indicates that the US is slipping in the estimation of the majority of the world while China is still on the rise.  The poll from the Pew Research Center collected the opinions of some 38,000 people in 23 nations and in the majority of these states the conclusion was the same – China would soon supplant the US as the world’s great economic power.   Even in the US there were a significant number of people who expressed the same opinion.  This is despite the fact that the numbers don’t support that conclusion.

There are any number of ways that a nation’s economic strength can be determined and many of them are pretty clumsy but for the average person the GDP per capita seems to mean the most.  This the GDP of the nation divided by the population and it gives an average number as far as the population’s share of the nation’s wealth.  The US ranks in seventh place with $49,965 per person.  The nations that finish ahead of the US include Luxembourg, Qatar, Norway, Singapore, Brunei and Switzerland.  China is ranked number 92 with $9,233.  That puts them slightly behind Bosnia and just ahead of the Maldives.   In essence, the majority of the Chinese population is not feeling so much like the world’s economic leader although there is a population of some 300 million in China that has become middle class.

2013-07-19 Quote Dr. KuehlThe perception is that China is a country destined to grow and that the US is in decline but the reality is that China’s growth has been very dependent on what happens in the US and Europe.  In the beginning of the global recession there was a sense that somehow the Chinese would manage to transcend all that turmoil and become the world’s great growth engine as they shifted their attention to other markets in other emerging nations.  That didn’t work out all that well and China soon began to suffer from the lack of demand from the states it had become wealthy selling to.

Perception or Reality:  The reality is that the last five years have exposed the fact that no nation is going to be in a dominant position in the future – the era of global interconnectedness really has dawned.

China’s growth has slowed and the new leaders are spending a lot of time warning the population that this will be the norm and that the days of double digit growth are over – at least as long as the rest of the world is challenged.  The US economy has been battered and suffers from a very chaotic set of priorities that serve to undermine one another but China has some of that problem as well.

The polls are conducted to gather opinion – not to produce a set of data that realistically reflects the current situation and opinion matters. The US has been seen as a stumbling mess by many and Europe fares even worse in the estimation of those asked. China seems far more capable despite the many issues facing the nation.  This matters as reputation drives decision making at many levels.  The US is clearly the more powerful economy and by far the richer one but the actions of the US have not impressed as they have in the past and there are many who now question the system due to the inability to bounce back from the economic crisis that emerged from mostly self-inflicted wounds.

A close examination of China reveals that there will be more economic challenges ahead and there is no evidence that the current leaders will be any more skilled than those in other states. The attempt to control inflation has slammed the brakes on the country’s manufacturing sector and the inability to spread the wealth from the coastal communities to the interior has provoked riots and protests.

Courtesy Dr. Chris Kuehl,  Armada Corporate Intelligence