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Visualizing the $100 Trillion Global Economy in One Chart
Surpassing the $100 trillion mark is a new milestone for global economic output.
We’ve covered this topic in the past when the world’s GDP was $88 trillion (2020) and then $94 trillion (2021), and now according to the latest projections, the IMF expects the global economy to reach nearly $104 trillion in nominal value by the end of 2022.
Although growth keeps trending upwards, the recovery that was expected in the post-pandemic period is looking strained. Because of recent conflicts, supply chain bottlenecks, and subsequent inflation, global economic projections are getting revised downwards.
Global annual GDP growth for 2022 was initially projected to be 4.4% as of January, but this has since been adjusted to 3.6%.
Note: This data from the IMF represents the most recent nominal projections for end of year as of April 2022.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is a broad indicator of the economic activity within a country. It measures the total value of economic output—goods and services—produced within a given time frame by both the private and public sectors.
The 50 Largest Economies in the World
The United States is still the economic leader worldwide, with a GDP of $25.3 trillion—making up nearly one quarter of the global economy. China follows close behind at $19.9 trillion. Here’s a look at the top 50 countries in terms of GDP:
The frontrunner in Europe is Germany at $4.3 trillion, with the UK coming in second place. One significant change since the last reported figures is that Brazil now cracks the top 10, having surpassed South Korea. Russia falls just outside, in 11th place, with a GDP of $1.8 trillion.
One region also expected to experience growth in the near future is the Middle East and North Africa, thanks to higher oil prices—Iraq and Saudi Arabia in particular are leading this charge. Regional GDP growth in the area is expected to be around 5% in 2022.
The 50 Smallest Economies in the World
Some of the world’s smallest economies were hit particularly hard by the pandemic, and have subsequently been the most affected by the inflation and food supply shortages resulting from the war in Ukraine.
Here’s a look at the countries worldwide with the lowest GDP in 2022:
The smallest economy in the world measured in the IMF rankings is Tuvalu at $66 million. Most of the bottom 50 are considered low- to middle-income and emerging/developing countries. According to the World Bank, in developing countries, the level of per capita income in 2022 will be about 5% below the pre-pandemic trends.
Some countries are actually projected to experience negative GDP growth this year, particularly emerging and developing economies in Europe.
For example, Russia is expected to experience a GDP growth rate of -8.5% in 2022, though it still remains to be seen how the cost of war and increasingly harsh global sanctions impact the country’s economic prospects.
Inflation, Stagflation, Recession – How Bad is it?
While global economic growth has already been revised downwards, it’s possible the situation could be even more serious. Organizations like the World Bank say that risks of stagflation are rising. Stagflation, which hasn’t occurred since the 1970s, is defined as an economy that’s experiencing rising inflation combined with a stagnant economic output.
Currently, global consumer inflation is currently pegged at 7%. Daily goods are becoming increasingly difficult to purchase and interest rates are on the rise as central banks worldwide try to control the situation. As recent events in Sri Lanka demonstrate, low-income countries are particularly at risk to economic volatility.
Explained: the Economic Crisis in Sri Lanka
There are several reasons for this crisis and the economic turmoil has sparked mass protests and violence across the country. This visual breaks down some of the elements that led to Sri Lanka’s current situation.
A Timeline of Events
The ongoing problems in Sri Lanka have bubbled up after years of economic mismanagement. Here’s a brief timeline looking at just some of the recent factors.
In 2009, a decades-long civil war in the country ended and the government’s focus turned inward towards domestic production. However, a stress on local production and sales, instead of exports, increased the reliance on foreign goods.
Unprompted cuts were introduced on income tax in 2019, leading to significant losses in government revenue, draining an already cash-strapped country.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit the world causing border closures globally and stifling one of Sri Lanka’s most lucrative industries. Prior to the pandemic, in 2018, tourism contributed nearly 5% of the country’s GDP and generated over 388,000 jobs. In 2020, tourism’s share of GDP had dropped to 0.8%, with over 40,000 jobs lost to that point.
Recently, the Sri Lankan government introduced a ban on foreign-made chemical fertilizers. The ban was meant to counter the depletion of the country’s foreign currency reserves.
However, with only local, organic fertilizers available to farmers, a massive crop failure occurred and Sri Lankans were subsequently forced to rely even more heavily on imports, further depleting reserves.
In early April this year, massive protests calling for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s resignation, sparked in Sri Lanka’s capital city, Colombo.
In May, pro-government supporters brutally attacked protesters. Subsequently, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, brother of President Rajapaksa, stepped down and was replaced with former PM, Ranil Wickremesinghe.
Recently, the government approved a four-day work week to allow citizens an extra day to grow food, as prices continue to shoot up. Food inflation increased over 57% in May.
Additionally, the increasing prices on grain caused by the war in Ukraine and rising fuel prices globally have played into an already dire situation in Sri Lanka.
The Key Information
“Our economy has completely collapsed.”
Prime minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to Parliament last week.
One of the main causes of the economic crisis in Sri Lanka is the reliance on imports and the amount spent on them. Let’s take a look at the numbers:
- 2021 total imports = $20.6 billion USD
- 2022 total imports (to March) = $5.7 billion USD
In contrast, the most recent reported foreign currency reserve levels in the country were at an abysmal $50 million, having plummeted an astounding 99%, from $7.6 billion in 2019.
Some of the top imports in 2021, according to the country’s central bank were:
- Refined petroleum = $2.8 billion
- Textiles = $3.1 billion
- Chemical products = $1.1 billion
- Food & beverage = $1.7 billion
Of course, without the cash to purchase these goods from abroad, Sri Lankans face an increasingly drastic situation.
Additionally, the debt Sri Lanka has incurred is huge, further hampering their ability to boost their reserves. Recently, they defaulted on a $78 million loan from international creditors, and in total, they’ve borrowed $50.7 billion.
The largest source of their debt is by far due to market borrowings, followed closely by loans taken from the Asian Development Bank, China, and Japan, among others.
What it Means
Sri Lanka is home to more than 22 million people who are rapidly losing the ability to purchase everyday goods. Consumer inflation reached 39% at the end of May.
Due to power outages meant to save energy and fuel, schools are currently shuttered and children have nowhere to go during the day. Protesters calling for the president’s resignation have been camped in the capital for months, facing tear gas from police and backlash from president Rajapaksa’s supporters, but many have also responded violently to pushback.
India and China have agreed to send help to the country and the the International Monetary Fund recently arrived in the country to discuss a bailout. Additionally, the government has sent ministers to Russia to discuss a deal for discounted oil imports.
A Foreshadowing for Low Income Countries
Governments need foreign currency in order to purchase goods from abroad. Without the ability to purchase or borrow foreign currency, the Sri Lankan government cannot buy desperately needed imports, including food staples and fuel, causing domestic prices to rise.
Furthermore, defaults on loan payments discourage foreign direct investment and devalue the national currency, making future borrowing more difficult.
What’s happening in Sri Lanka may be an ominous preview of what’s to come in other low and middle-income countries, as the risk of debt distress continues to rise globally.
The Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) was implemented by G20 countries, suspending nearly $13 billion in debt from the start of the pandemic until late 2021.
Some DSSI and LIC countries facing a high risk of debt distress include Zambia, Ethiopia, and Tajikistan, to name a few.
Going forward, Sri Lanka’s next steps in managing this situation will either serve as a useful example for other countries at risk or a warning worth heeding.
Since this article was published the situation has changed significantly in Sri Lanka. Protesters have received their original demand calling for president Rajapaksa to step down — both he and prime minister Wickremesinghe have agreed to resign. This comes after protesters stormed the president’s palace causing him to flee the country.