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China’s economy will soon surpass America’s. Europeans now rank higher than Americans on quality-of-life measures. While such global trends mean the US can’t forever remain the world’s political and economic arbiter, this shift presents new opportunities. Economist Charles Kenny says developing nations’ rising standards of living generate more opportunities for developed nations and for entrepreneurs worldwide. Because the economic world is not a zero-sum game, where one nation’s advance means another’s decline, the rise of China and India do not pose a threat to the US. Viewing them with fear, Kenny says, is the sort of fallacious thinking that breeds protectionism, animosity and conflict. His provocative message is that global prosperity benefits everyone and is closer now than ever before. The postcolonial future is coming, he says, and Americans should adapt. While prediction has obvious pitfalls, Kenny offers a fresh if somewhat rosy perspective on world economics, served with an intriguing future vision. While always politically neutral, getAbstract recommends his treatise to those seeking a groundbreaking, readable economics overview that backs its conclusions with specific, illuminating examples.


Lost Empire

With the US still recovering from the 2007-2008 recession and its failed wars, observers wonder whether the West has reached its economic pinnacle. The US economy is about 45% larger than China’s, but it is only a matter of time before the labor of China’s 1.3 billion citizens will exceed the output of 310 million Americans. By the mid-2030s, China will be the world’s dominant economy, followed by great economic advances in India, Nigeria, Vietnam, Brazil and Indonesia. Developing nations will account for two-thirds of the world’s gross domestic product by 2030. China will challenge the United States’ foreign policy and its other interests worldwide.

America can adapt to this new reality, much as Britain had to, and did. For about 90 years, Britain was the world’s largest economy, taking on that role after China stalled in the 1860s. Britain relinquished its colonial ambitions in the late 1950s and regained its economic equilibrium even when it was no longer in first place. Today, the global economic momentum of China’s ascent cannot be reversed; the US now faces changes similar to those that plagued Britain and might take lessons from Europe. While acknowledging...

About the Author

Former World Bank senior economist, Charles Kenny wrote Getting Better: Why Global Development Is Succeeding – And How We Can Improve the World Even More. He’s a Center for Global Development senior fellow and a Bloomberg Businessweek and Foreign Policy columnist.

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