The global economic boom and America’s shrinking role in it

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The global economy has been on a serious roll since 2004. According to IMF data, we’re in the midst of the biggest global boom since the 1970s. Of course, the ’70s weren’t so great in the U.S. and, while the ’00s have been better, they haven’t felt better for a lot of people. The charts below (created by Time.com’s Feilding Cage using data from the USDA’s Economic Research Service) help explain why. For most of the 1990s the U.S. share of global economic activity grew; since 1999 it’s been shrinking. It hasn’t been shrinking all that much: At a projected 30.49% in 2007, it’s still significantly higher than it was in the early 1990s. But the trend has shifted, and with it some portion of the national mood.

I happen to think that the richest country in the world ought to be okay with ceding some of its share of the global economy, as long as living standards aren’t actually declining here. It may even be, as I speculated in Fortune a few years ago, that a U.S. in full boom mode sucks some of the life out of the rest of the world economy. But yeah, it’s more fun being the engine of global economic growth than sitting somewhere toward the back of the train.

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