Practical analysis for investment professionals
10 December 2015

Which Nation Will Drive Global Growth in 2016?

Posted In: Economics

As 2015 quickly draws to a close, you might be wondering what 2016 has in store for us. This week we asked readers of CFA Institute Financial NewsBrief which country they think will contribute the most to global economic growth in 2016. Here’s what they had to say.

The United States: 42%

At more than US$18 trillion, the United States is no doubt the largest economy in the world and will remain so for many years to come. However, the consensus view on its growth picture is far less impressive. The Wall Street Journal survey of 60 economists currently puts the growth rate at 2.6%, which translates into a roughly US$450–500-billion contribution to global economic growth in 2016.

Since we know China’s GDP is roughly 60% of US GDP and its growth rate is expected to be at least twice as high, our readers are clearly more positive on the growth potential of the United States vs. China compared to the consensus. Will the economists be proven wrong?

There is obviously also the possibility of survey respondents confusing economic growth with the absolute size of the economy.

China: 28%

China’s GDP came in at about US$10.3 trillion over the last four quarters at the current exchange rate. The World Bank expects that it can grow by 7.0% in 2016, which translates into an over US$700-billion contribution to global economic growth. So at least on paper, this is the right answer to our question according to consensus.

So why do our readers not agree? There is indeed an intelligent reason not to choose China. More and more people doubt the accuracy of China’s statistics these days. These questions have surrounded China since the early days of its economic miracle. Most of those with doubts, however, have been proven wrong by the economic reality over recent decades. This time though, the questions seem to have data backing them up.

There are also several not-so-intelligent reasons not to choose China. Some could have confused GDP growth with GDP itself. Others could have been influenced by the slate of news on the slowdown in China’s economic growth. Bear in mind these three things — GDP, GDP growth (i.e., the change in GDP, which what we are asking), and change in GDP growth (which is what the headlines are focused on these days) — are quite different really.

Which country will contribute the most to global economic growth in 2016?
Which country will contribute the most to global economic growth in 2016?

India: 25%

The World Bank pegs India’s GDP growth rate in 2016 at 7.9%, the highest among all countries where the organization produces a forecast. Does that mean India will contribute the most to global economic growth next year? Unfortunately no, and the reason is simple: India is rather small compared to the United States and China, so it would be quite hard for India to move the needle for the rest of the world.

India’s GDP is just above US $2 trillion, so it will need to grow its GDP by more than 20% a year to beat the US contribution and more than 30% to beat China’s.

Germany: 3%; Other: 2%

I guess everyone has taken it to heart that the European economies have far from recovered from the financial crisis. And there are no other countries in the world that have both the scale and the growth rate to challenge China or the United States as top contributors to global economic growth next year.

We intentionally tweaked the question to avoid simply asking which country will have the highest growth rate because we think that the broader picture is what matters the most to the rest of the world. As we have shown, scale alone does not guarantee you the championship in this race. But without scale, having the highest growth rate is not enough either.

When the world searches hard for engines that will propel us out of the economic doldrums, it pays to know where to look. Apparently, the last place to look is the newspaper headlines.

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All posts are the opinion of the author. As such, they should not be construed as investment advice, nor do the opinions expressed necessarily reflect the views of CFA Institute or the author’s employer.

About the Author(s)
Larry Cao, CFA

Larry Cao, CFA, senior director of industry research, CFA Institute, conducts original research with a focus on the investment industry trends and investment expertise. His current research interests include multi-asset strategies and FinTech (including AI, big data, and blockchain). He has led the development of such popular publications as FinTech 2017: China, Asia and Beyond, FinTech 2018: The Asia Pacific Edition, Multi-Asset Strategies: The Future of Investment Management and AI Pioneers in Investment management. He is also a frequent speaker at industry conferences on these topics. During his time in Boston pursuing graduate studies at Harvard and as a visiting scholar at MIT, he also co-authored a research paper with Nobel laureate Franco Modigliani that was published in the Journal of Economic Literature by American Economic Association. Larry has more than 20 years of experience in the investment industry. Prior to joining CFA Institute, Larry worked at HSBC as senior manager for the Asia Pacific region. He started his career at the People’s Bank of China as a USD fixed-income portfolio manager. He also worked for US asset managers Munder Capital Management, managing US and international equity portfolios, and Morningstar/Ibbotson Associates, managing multi-asset investment programs for a global financial institution clientele. Larry has been interviewed by a wide range of business media, such as Bloomberg, CNN, the Financial Times, South China Morning Post and the Wall Street Journal.

11 thoughts on “Which Nation Will Drive Global Growth in 2016?”

  1. Hiren Shah says:

    Great post !!!!

    1. Larry Cao, CFA says:


      Thank you for visiting our blog! I am glad that you found it helpful.

      Warm regards,

  2. Stan Canova says:

    What about the rest of the BRICS? …also can you comment on the use of the Yuan without bypassing the US$? some Central Banks have already obtained such agreement for all Chinese importing.

    1. Larry Cao, CFA says:


      Good question. The BRICS countries have been experiencing rather different growth trajectories in recent years. World Bank estimates put the GDP growth rate of Brazil, Russia, South Africa next year at below US levels, so they will not be major contributors to global economic growth.
      The PBOC does have currency swap agreements in place with many other central banks. If that’s what you are referring to, it would not systematically bias China’s GDP numbers.

      Thanks for visiting our blog and sharing your comments!


      1. Kam Kwong says:

        A few numbers bear this out. If Chinese GDP growth reaches 6.7% in 2016 – in line with the government’s official target and only slightly above the International Monetary Fund’s latest prediction (6.6%) – China would account for 1.2 percentage points of world GDP growth. With the IMF currently expecting only 3.1% global growth this year, China would contribute nearly 39% of the total.

        That share dwarfs the contribution of other major economies. For example, while the United States is widely praised for a solid recovery, its GDP is expected to grow by just 2.2% in 2016 – enough to contribute just 0.3 percentage points to overall world GDP growth, or only about one-fourth of the contribution made by China.

        A sclerotic European economy is expected to add a mere 0.2 percentage points to world growth, and Japan not even 0.1 percentage point. China’s contribution to global growth is, in fact, 50% larger than the combined 0.8-percentage-point contribution likely to be made by all of the so-called advanced economies.

  3. Raghu raman says:

    Really good blog & informative . would like to understand more about China growth plunge . what are things can make India to super competent in front of China in global growth contribution ?;

  4. li says:

    “India’s GDP is just above US $2 trillion, so it will need to grow its GDP by more than 20% a year to beat the US contribution and more than 30% to beat China’s.” Wrong, U.S. Is larger than china

    1. suraj kumar says:


  5. li says:

    China is twice as India, while ur growth rate for them has no big difference, How could they end up with 28% and 25%?

    1. li says:

      U said india need to grow 30% to beat China, while India only has 7.9% on paper, but their final contribution is similar, 28%to25%

  6. li says:

    China’s 10trillion*7% is also larger than us’s 18trillion*2.6%, without showing detailed estimation method, I can’t agree. Also the number is result different than other previous estimate

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