Decade a Good One for Global Growth

Not a lot of Americans are going to look back fondly on 2009 in an economic sense. But if you expand the viewpoint to a longer time frame and make it more global in nature, a George Mason University economics professor says it was a pretty good decade.

According to Tyler Cowen, national leaders around the world are embracing the commercialization of their economies. He writes:

Putting aside the United States, which ranks third, the four most populous countries are China, India, Indonesia and Brazil, accounting for more than 40 percent of the world’s people, and all four have made great strides.

  • Indonesia had solid economic growth during the entire decade, mostly in the 5 percent to 6 percent annual range.

  • Brazil also had a consistently good decade, with growth at times exceeding 5 percent a year.

  • Elsewhere in South America, Colombia and Peru have made enormous progress and Chile is on the verge of becoming a "developed" country.

  • To be sure, in Africa, there is still enormous misery; nonetheless, overall standards of living rose in a wide variety of countries there, with economic growth for the continent as a whole at more than 5 percent in most years.

In a given year, an extra percentage point of economic growth may not seem to matter much. But, over time, the difference between annual growth of 1 percent and 2 percent determines whether you can double your standard of living every 35 years or every 70 years. At 5 percent annual economic growth, living standards double about every 14 years.