The top 10 economies of the world and the recession

January 23, 2009

United States

The United Stated with a GDP of $13.8 trillion is the world’s No.1. The US economy grew in the first quarter by 1 per cent. However, the recession has battered the economy. By June 2008, the economy fell into a recession. In the third quarter of 2008, the GDP shrunk by 0.5 per cent, the biggest fall since 2001. The 6.4 per cent fall in spending during Q3 on non-durable goods, like clothing and food, was the largest since 1950. About 2.6 million Americans lost their jobs in 2008, the worst since the end of World War II.

Japan

Japan is the world’s second largest economy with a GDP of $43.7 trillion. With a huge fall in exports, Japan has moved deeper into recession in the fourth quarter. Japan’s GDP has fallen at an annual rate of 0.4 percent from July to September 2008, marking the second consecutive quarter of negative growth. Japan’s previous recession was in 2001, after the dot-com bust in the United States. Japanese exports plunged a record 35 percent in December as the recession led to a fall in electronics and automobiles. Bank of Japan said the economy will shrink by 1.8 per cent this financial year.

China

China has steered ahead of Germany as the world’s third largest economy after the United States and Japan. It saw a GDP growth rate of 13 per cent in 2007. China revised the growth rate of its gross domestic product (GDP) for 2007 to 13 per cent from 11.9 per cent, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said. The pace was the fastest since 1994 when the GDP expanded by 13.1 per cent, according to the NBS data. Final verification showed the GDP totaled $3.76 trillion. However, the recession has taken a toll on the economy. The growth in manufacturing has fallen sharply in the fourth quarter. The GDP growth in the fourth dropped to 6.8 per cent, pulling down the full year growth down to 9 per cent from 13 per cent in 2007.

Germany

Germany has been pushed to the 4th position after being ranked third for many years. Its GDP stands at $32.9 trillion. Falling exports saw the German economy’s GDP fall by half a percent in July, August and September, which was the second straight quarter of decline. The European economy saw its first recession in 15 years. Europe is facing the worst financial crisis since the great depression. The GDP in the 15 euro nations contracted by 0.2 per cent during August, September and October 2008.

United Kingdom

The fifth largest economy, United Kingdom fell by 0.5 per cent July and September. The GDP of the fifth largest economy stood at $27.2 trillion. The Economist Intelligence Unit in its forecast said the UK economy will “stagnate” during 2009. It said UK GDP growth will fall from 3.1 per cent in 2007, to one per cent in 2008 and it will contract 0.8 per cent in 2009. The economy shrank in the third quarter for the first time since 1992.

France

France is the 6th largest economy in the world with a GDP of $25.6 trillion. The French economy shrank by 0.3 percent in the second quarter of the year. However, the gross domestic product grew by 0.1 per cent in the third quarter of 2008. The International Monetary Fund has forecast a 0.5 percent fall of the French economy in 2009. President Nicolas Sarkozy unveiled a 26-billion-euro stimulus plan in December to fight the crisis.

Italy

Italy with a GDP of $21 trillion, is the 7th largest economy in the world. The Italian economy fell in the third quarter of 2008 for the second consecutive quarter. The GDP fell by 0.5 per cent on a quarter-ago basis, after a revised drop of 0.4 per cent in the second quarter.

Spain

The world’s 8th largest economy is Spain with a GDP of $14.2 trillion. Spain has been trapped under a recession for the first time in 15 years. Spain’s economy fell for the first time since 1993. Spain’s gross domestic product fell 0.2% in the third quarter from the second quarter, while it grew 0.9% from the third quarter a year earlier.

Canada

Canada is the 9th largest economy in the world with a GDP of $13.2 trillion. It is expected that Canada will see negative growth in the next two quarters. Canada’s unemployment rate is set to hit a high of 7.4 per cent in 2009. While the growth is 0.6 percent in 2008, there will be no growth this year, according to The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC).

Brazil

Brazil with a GDP of $13.1 trillion is the 10th largest economy in the world. Brazil’s economy has also been hit by the recession. Brazil’s industrial output fell by 6.2 per cent in November. This has been the fall since December 2001. Brazil’s unemployment rate dropped to its lowest point in seven years.

India

India with a GDP of $1.17 trillion is the world’s 12th largest economy. The Indian economy grew at 7.9 per cent in the first quarter ended June 2008, the slowest growth rate in three years. The growth rate of 7.9 per cent in the first quarter ended June 2008 is much lower than 9.2 per cent recorded in corresponding quarter last year. The economic growth further fell to 7.6 percent for the second quarter of this fiscal. The manufacturing sector has been badly hit by the slowdown. The growth rate in the manufacturing sector was recorded only 5 percent during July-September, 2008. The manufacturing sector had registered a growth rate of 9.2 percent during the same period last year. According to the National Council for Applied Economics Research (NCAER), India’s industrial growth will deteriorate further by next year.


World’s top innovative nations

January 16, 2009

1. United States

The United States still rules the world when it comes to innovation. This is no surprise, as the US with a legacy of over 100 years in innovation, has been consistent in taking the leader’s slot. The US knows it must continue to innovate to stay ahead. It tops in three areas: human capacity, business markets and competitiveness. The five input pillars that are included in the GII are: Institutions and Policies, Human Capacity, General and ICT Infrastructure, Markets Sophistication and Business Sophistication. The input pillars define aspects of the conducive environment required to stimulate innovation within an economy. There are three output pillars which provide evidence of the results of innovation within the economy: Knowledge Creation, Competitiveness and Wealth Creation. The US scored high on both input (ranked 2nd) and output (ranked 1st) pillars.

2. Germany

Germany follows in second position, maintaining its position from last year. Germany scores relatively low on the input pillars (10th) and very high on the output pillars (2nd), leading to an overall second rank. It is important to note that that eight out of the top 10 countries in the list are from Europe. As global competition intensifies and innovation becomes more important, the business sector has been internationalizing knowledge-intensive corporate functions, including research and development, the study points out.

3. Sweden

Sweden rises to 3rd rank in 2008 year from 12th position in 2007. It’s important to provide a safety net to innovators, says the study. There must be a conducive environment for innovative companies. A ‘succeed or perish’ environment often kills innovative ideas in the nascent stages as people will be too intimidated to take creative risks that could fail.

4. United Kingdom

The United Kingdom fell from 3rd to 4th position in 2008. The study reflects that innovation is correlated with income levels in a country. For example, the innovation levels in the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) countries are much more than non-OECD countries. The high income countries do significantly better by topping innovation rankings. The average innovation index falls with the income levels of the country.

5. Singapore

Singapore rose to 5th rank in 2008 from 7th. Singapore is also 2nd from the Asian region. Innovation is not just about generating new ideas, says the study. It is about translating these ideas into value-added products and services. This requires flexibility of attitude and a willingness to adapt and welcome unprecedented levels of change on the part of all stakeholders involved, says the study.

6. South Korea

South Korea made a giant leap by grabbing the 6th rank, up from 19th position in 2007. Over the last two decades, the Republic of Korea has undergone a great change, with Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) and innovation becoming the power engine for its high economic growth. After facing a big financial crisis in 1997, Korea emerged into a powerhouse of knowledge through the consolidation of knowledge industries with the ICT industry itself contributing to more than 30 per cent of its total exports, the study states.

7. Switzerland

One of the world most beautiful places has also made it to the top innovative nations’ list. Switzerland is ranked 7th in the global innovative index. Innovation is the key driver of any economy. It works best when like-minded individuals come together in small collectives, irrespective of political and cultural differences and work on projects that yield value for all parties involved.

8. Denmark

While Denmark features among the top nations with an overall score of 5.73 along the different input pillars, it ranks relatively low at position 21st along the output pillars. This pulls the overall GII rank of Denmark down to 8th and raises questions as to why despite creating a highly conducive environment for innovation, it is not able to capitalize on it. The remarkable leadership and phenomenal development of the three Nordic countries of Finland, Denmark and Sweden have consistently done well in the development of institutions and policies that nurture innovation. Denmark tops the ICT and infrastructure pillar. Denmark also comes at top position in the 2008 Networked Readiness Rankings of the World Economic Forum.

9. Japan

The world’s industrial powerhouse Japan moved down to 9th position in 2008. It was ranked fourth in 2007. Ranked relatively lower along the input pillars (16th), Japan comes in at an impressive 3rd position along the output pillars. Clearly, Germany and Japan are able to leverage their less favorable innovation environments into more effective innovation results. The Japanese society is currently undergoing deep structural changes. Japan enjoys a competitive edge in business sophistication, innovation and R&D (research and development) spending. But its macroeconomic weaknesses have led to one of the highest debt levels in the world. People are also questioning the values of the political, economic and social institutions, and alternatives are being explored. This includes the fields of education, research and innovation as well. The government and the private sector give high priority to R&D spending.

10. Netherlands

The Netherlands with a prosperous economy is ranked 10th in the list. It is also the 16th largest economy in the world. A country’s readiness is linked to its ability to garner the best from leading-edge technologies, expanded human capacities, better organizational and operational capabilities and improved institutional performance, according to the study.