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World’s Economy Evolving

History doesn’t go in a straight line: for many countries, the last 35 years have been an economic rollercoaster ride.

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35 Years of World's Economy

Key findings

Here are the key points that this diagram has taught us:

  • History doesn’t go in a straight line: for many countries (including the US), the last 35 years have been an economic rollercoaster ride. Another example is Japan, which reached a peak of 17.6% of the global economy in 1994, but now stands at just 6%.

  • The global economy actually moves in waves: over the years, recessions in the US have impacted the entire global economy. For instance, rising US interest rates from 1986-1989 and an oil price shock in 1990 briefly slowed economic growth in the US. Also, the year 2001 saw the dot-com bubble burst and 9-11 attacks, which ended a decade of economic growth. But it was the Great Recession from 2007-2009 that had the biggest impact, causing the US and European economies to slow while emerging countries (mostly in Asia) continued to gather steam.

  • While off its peak, the US remains the most dominant single economy, representing almost one-quarter (22.5%) of the world’s GDP — equivalent to the Europe’s share.

  • China’s economy has skyrocketed, growing from a relatively small economy in 1980 (2.8% of global GDP) to the second-largest economy today (13.4% of global GDP).

  • In terms of GDP, Asia is the new Europe — Asia’s current share of the global economy is roughly equivalent to Europe’s in 1980 (32%).

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