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Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 70% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading spread bets and CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how spread bets and CFDs work, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
Spread bets and CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 70% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading spread bets and CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how spread bets and CFDs work, and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.

Top 10 largest economies in the world

Gross domestic product (GDP) indicates the size and health of a country’s economy. Explore the top 10 biggest economies in the world and explain how you can gain exposure to them via trading.

World flags Source: Bloomberg

United States of America (GDP: $22.3 trillion)

Despite facing challenges over the past few decades, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, trade wars and devastating natural disasters, the US still has the largest economy in the world.2 It has a nominal GDP of $22.99 trillion and is expected to reach a GDP per capita of more than $62,200 by the end of 2022.2 In fact, the US has been the biggest economy since the late 19th century.3

While the IMF predicted an impressive 7% growth rate for the US economy in 2021 and 4.9% in 2022,4 the reality was a downward trajectory of 1.5% in the first quarter of 2022 – a sharp reversal from the 6.9% annual growth rate recorded in the fourth quarter of 2021.5

Since the recession of 2008, the US debt-to-GDP ratio has increased significantly and is currently no less than 126.7%. 4 It reached an all-time high of 133.8% in March 2021 and had a record low of 31.8% in September 1974.6

The top contributor to the US economy is its services sector, which includes healthcare, technology and retail. The services sector is responsible for approximately 80% of GDP, and the rest is divided between industry and agriculture.7

China (GDP: $19.9 trillion)

China, though the second-largest economy in the world, is still considered an emerging market economy as a result of its generally inferior infrastructure, lower life expectancy and greater poverty levels than a developed nation.8

It has experienced something of an economic slowdown over the past decade due to mounting financial risks, including low private consumption and the weakening of the trade relationship with the US. Furthermore, the US-China trade war has caused a lot of tension, leading to an increase in global trade and a diversified supply chain for the products targeted by the tariffs, with significant implications for the future of globalisation.9

That said, the Chinese economy is $19.9 trillion strong, and is expected to grow by at least 3.3% in 2022, according to the IMF.10 GDP per capita is $12,359.11 Construction and industry contribute around 39.4% to the country’s GDP, followed by the services sector at 53.3% and agriculture at 7.3%.12

Relatively low government debt of 66.8% puts the country in a favourable position compared to some other countries on the list.13

Japan (GDP: $5.1 trillion)

Tech and electronics giant Japan has the third largest economy in the world, with a GDP per capita of $39,334.14 It was the second largest until it was overtaken by China in 2010. Japan’s $5.145 trillion nominal GDP was expected to grow by roughly 2.8% in 2021 and 3.4% in 2022. In reality, these figures were 1.62% in 2021 and 1.7% for 2022 so far,15 a notable downward adjustment.16

On the other hand, the country has experienced a degree of economic slowdown since the 2008 financial crisis, and it has a government debt level of 259% – currently the highest in the world.17

Japan is the world’s biggest manufacturing and export base. Other industries that stimulate economic activity in the country include agriculture, tourism and services.

Germany (GDP: $4.2 trillion)

Germany has a nominal GDP of $4.25 trillion and a GDP per capita of $54,653.1 For many years, the country has been at the forefront of economic freedom through solid employment levels and its openness to global trade.

The IMF has pegged German’s growth at 1.2% in 2022, compared to 2.9% in 2021,18 as a result of elevated energy import prices and weak consumer confidence. Some expect the economy to slow down further and debt levels to rise in order to cushion Europe’s biggest economy from the fallout of Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine. This comes after the country narrowly escaped a recession in 2018, resulting in weak spots in the economy.

As far as the national debt levels go, Germany’s ratio is 69.3%.19 The services sector is responsible for 70% of Germany’s GDP, while industry accounts for almost 29.1% and agriculture less than 0.9%.20

India (GDP $3.5 trillion)

India is the second-largest emerging economy and the fifth-largest economy in the world.21

India’s nominal GDP is $3.53 trillion, or $2,321 per capita.22 Growth has been 8.7% for the period 2021-2022,23 stable and much recovered after the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, gross governmental debt level is now at a high of 84%.24 India’s main industry is services, which accounts for 53.9% of GDP, while agriculture and allied sectors share 20.19% of GDP.25

Though India is still an emerging market economy, it has experienced major fiscal gains over the past few decades. For example, the prosperity of its 1.417 billion-strong population has largely increased, with poverty levels falling by more than half from 1993 to 2011, and from 22.5% in 2011 to 10.2% in 2019, according to the World Bank.26

United Kingdom (GDP: $3.2 trillion)

The UK has a highly developed economy, with a GDP of $3.18 trillion,1 and GDP per capita that’s expected to lower marginally to $41,900 by the end of 2022.27, as well as a general government debt ratio of 96.6% as of the end of August 2022.28

In recent years, the price impact of Brexit has caused a weaker economy. Continued depreciation of the pound has meant price increases for consumers and lower export rates for the country.29 Even so, the UK’s economy is expected to increase by between 3.1% and 3.6% during 2022.30 Though Britain has large energy and financial sectors, the services sector is its biggest contributor to GDP.

France (GDP: $2.8 trillion)

With a nominal GDP of $2.82 trillion, France is the seventh-largest economy in the world.1 The 2008 financial crisis didn’t hit France as hard as some other countries, partly because of its low reliance on external trade. Financials only took a slight knock in 2009, but recovery has unfortunately been slow despite high levels of spending.31

The debt-to-GDP ratio is currently 112%.32 GDP itself grew a significant 5.8% in 2021 and is predicted to increase by 2.4% over the course of 2022, and 1.4% during 2023.33

As is the case with most other nations, France’s services sector has the biggest impact on the GDP, with a contribution of more than 70%.

Italy (GDP: $2 trillion)

The Italian economy found itself in a technical recession at the end of the fourth quarter of 2018, with an overwhelming government debt level of 134.4%.34

The country has blamed dwindling domestic demand for the recession but, despite recent economic meltdowns, Italy’s GDP stands at $2.09 trillion – with a $31,511 per capita GDP ratio.35 Growth forecasts, while 3% for 2022, 8 remain low at 0.7% for 2023.36

Italy’s biggest sectors include vehicle production, textiles, tourism and machinery. However, the services sector is the biggest contributor towards nominal GDP.

Brazil (GDP: $1.8 trillion)

Brazil is the largest economy in South America and ranks ninth largest in the world by GDP, which measures at $1.83 trillion nominally and at $8,551 per capita.37

Until 2010, economic growth was strong but there has since been cause for concern over the country’s economic future. Problems have included the conviction of the former president in 2016, and sanctions against some of its leading companies. However, Brazil’s economy is still expected to see growth of 2.9% over 2022, according to Goldman Sachs.38

As far as government debt goes, this fell to 78.5% at March 2022 as a result of a new primary surplus.39 The services sector is responsible for 62.9% of Brazil’s GDP contribution, while agriculture and industry also account for a substantial amount of the country’s GDP.40

Canada (GDP: $1.7 trillion)

Canada has large reserves of crude oil and natural gas, making it one of the most abundant developed countries in the world. It is expected to reach a nominal GDP of $1.74 trillion ($44,500 per capita)1 by the end of 2022 and has a government debt level of 135.9%.41 GDP rose by 6.6% in 2021 and is expected to reach 3.7% during 2022.42

There are three major sectors in Canada – services, manufacturing and the natural resource sector. The largest contributor to GDP is the services sector, which accounts for about 69.8% of GDP per year on average, followed by industry at 28.5% and agriculture at 1.7%.43

How to trade the world’s largest economies

With us, you can invest in over 13,000 international and local shares on our share dealing platform. Zero commission on US shares, and just £3 on UK shares, with a foreign exchange fee of just 0.5%.44 You can also invest via ETFs, which give broad exposure – for example to an entire industry or sector or country – with a single purchase.

If you want to gain exposure to the top 10 largest economies in the world, but don’t want to own any investments outright, you can also trade on them via CFD trading or spread betting. With both of these you can speculate currencies and (indirectly) on economies, whether you think they’ll rise or fall in value.

Remember that both spread betting and CFD trading are leveraged trades, meaning you put down an initial deposit to open a larger position, but profits or losses can outweigh your margin as both are calculated on total position size.

With us, you can trade over 40 forex pairs and 80 indices, including GBP/USD/JPY, the DAX and the FTSE 100.

The world’s 10 biggest economies in summary

Gross domestic product (GDP)1 GDP per capita2 Expected growth in 2022 Debt-to-GDP ratio
USA $22.3 trillion $62,200 4.9% 126.7%
China $19.9 trillion $12,359 3.3% 66.8%
Japan $5.1 trillion $39,334 1.7% 259%
Germany $4.2 trillion $54,653 1.2% 69.3%
India $3.5 trillion $2,321 8.7% 84%
UK $3.2 trillion $41,900 3.6% 96.6%
France $2.8 trillion $45,187 2.4% 112%
Italy $2 trillion $31,511 3% 134.4%
Brazil $1.8 trillion $8,551 2.9% 78.5%
Canada $1.7 trillion $44,500 3.7% 135.9%

1 Population Review, 2022
2, 2022
3 Oxford Academic, 1986
4 IMF, 2021
5 The United Nations ECLAC, 2022
6 CEIC, 2022
7 Statista, 2019
8 Quilter Investor, 2022
9 Columbia Business School, 2022
10 IMF, 2022
11 Statista, 2022
12 Statista, 2022
13 Trading economics, 2020
14 CEIC, 2021
15 Macro trends, 2021
16 Al Jazeera, 2022
17 Visual Capitalist, 2021
18 IMF, 2022
19 Trading economics, 2022
20 Statista, 2021
21 Fortune India, 2022
22 CEIC, 2022
23 Mint, 2022
24 Trading economics, 2022
25 Statistics Times, 2021
26 Economic Times, 2022
27 Trading economics, 2022
28 House of Commons Library, 2022
29 CaixaBank Research, 2016
30 PwC, 2022
31 IMF, 2010
32 World Economics, 2022
33 European Commission, 2022
34 Statista, 2022
35 TFI Global, 2022
36 ANSA en Business, 2022
37 Trading Economics, 2022
38 Reuters, 2022
39 Reuters, 2022
40 Lloyds Bank, 2022
41 CEIC, 2022
42 FactSect, 2022
43, 2022

44 Trade in your share dealing account three or more times in the previous month to qualify for our best commission rates. Please note published rates are valid up to £25,000 notional value. See our full list of share dealing charges and fees.

This information has been prepared by IG, a trading name of IG Markets Limited. In addition to the disclaimer below, the material on this page does not contain a record of our trading prices, or an offer of, or solicitation for, a transaction in any financial instrument. IG accepts no responsibility for any use that may be made of these comments and for any consequences that result. No representation or warranty is given as to the accuracy or completeness of this information. Consequently any person acting on it does so entirely at their own risk. Any research provided does not have regard to the specific investment objectives, financial situation and needs of any specific person who may receive it. It has not been prepared in accordance with legal requirements designed to promote the independence of investment research and as such is considered to be a marketing communication. Although we are not specifically constrained from dealing ahead of our recommendations we do not seek to take advantage of them before they are provided to our clients. See full non-independent research disclaimer and quarterly summary.

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