Falling behind the USA
While this fundamental trend on both sides of the Atlantic has to be taken into account, it is equally important to see the strengthening of US capital compared to its European competitor during the past decade. Let us first look at some basic facts. While the European Union had a bigger population than the United States even before the new clutch of members joined in 2004, it was still economically weaker (See Table 3 and 4).
USA EU-15 (EU-25)
Population (in millions) 282 388 (455)
GDP (2002, in billions US-Dollar) 9.837,4 7.874,8
GDP per head (in US-Dollar) 34.900 20.800
Table 4: Share of World Population and GDP; USA und EU-15 (9)
USA EU-15 (EU-25)
Share of World Population 5% 6% (7,4%)
Share of World GDP (in US-Dollar) 31,2% 25%
As one can see from these numbers, the United States is not only economically bigger than an enlarged European Union but also possesses a much more productive economy. In the year 2001 - i.e. when the US was in full recession - its GDP per capita was 40 per cent higher than that of the 15 EU states. This advantage will become substantially bigger now the 10 new states have joined the EU this year since their industrial development is far behind the imperialist economies of Western Europe.
US dominance is even more impressive among the biggest 100 multi-nationals. Fifty-seven are of US origin, only 30 from Europe. Of the top 10, only the eighth and ninth are European (BP and Shell). Of the top 1,000, 488 are based in the US, only 273 in EU countries (among them 77 British, 48 French and 35 German). (10)
EU companies have fallen further behind during the last decade. As one can see from table 2, while GDP growth in the Eurozone was 2.3 per cent (1973-1990) and 2.1 per cent (1990-2003) it was 3.0 per cent and 3.2 per cent respectively for the USA.
Also, US firms exploited their workers more than their EU counterparts in the 1990s as evidenced in the greater productivity performance. (see table 5)
Table 5: Average annual Growth rates of labor productivity (GDP/worker) in percent; USA and Euro Zone 1969-2000 (11)
1969-79 1979-90 1990-2000
USA 1,3 1,15 1,8
Euro Zone 3,2 1,9 1,6
Another indicator is the rising share of US firms in world trade while, at the same time, the share claimed by EU rivals fell away. In 1991, the EU had a 15 per cent share of world exports and 17 per cent of world imports. By 2001, this share had declined to 14.8 and 15 per cent respectively. For the US, the corresponding figures are 14.7 per cent (exports) and 12.5 per cent (imports) in 1991 and 19 and 12.3 per cent in 2001. (12)