How dependent is the economy of the world on the United States?

Can US policies have disastrous impacts on other superpowers in the world such as Germany?

For example, take into account countries such as Iran and Turkey which were hit by US sanctions and their economy soon deteriorated.

I want to know if the same can happen to a country like Germany, UK, or Japan if at some point in time US decides to impose similar measures on such countries or even decide to stop doing business with them?

In brief, can German economy, as an example, survive without the United States? Are they heavily-dependent on the US?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ 1) since dissolution of USSR, there is only one superpower on earth: USA. 2) You are aware that Germany is part of EU, and as such, any economic attack on Germany would be a an attack on entirety of EU? 3) USA-EU economic war is one of the things Donald Trump seems to be pushing for. Who wins remains to be seen. Considering that Trump appears to want to go to economic war with entire world, my money is against USA. $\endgroup$
    – M i ech
    Sep 10, 2018 at 8:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ "At some point in time" is difficult to answer - who knows how economies and alliances look like in 100 or 500 years. $\endgroup$
    – janh
    Sep 10, 2018 at 8:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Miech Interesting. But the question in that case will be twofold: Can Germany (and consequently EU) economy survive without the US and can the US economy survive without EU/Germany/etc.? $\endgroup$
    – janicamexe
    Sep 10, 2018 at 9:44
  • $\begingroup$ This question was closed as off-topic by the Politics Stack Exchange community. The author requested a migration to Economics.SE. $\endgroup$
    – Philipp
    Sep 10, 2018 at 15:47

2 Answers 2


During 2017 US GDP made up 24.03% of global GDP, so yes, the world economy is heavily dependent on the US.

Specific effects on individual countries depend on current levels of trade. The one country that would be most negatively affected (especially given news about the NAFTA negotiations), would be Canada (582 billion traded with a GDP of 1.653 trillion). Most other countries probably wouldn't experience that level of total economic collapse, but depending on what scenario you're suggesting things aren't going to go well regardless since the US is also instrumental in doing things like the dollar being the global reserve currency and being the basis of the petro trade, as well as subsidizing global security (mostly in regards to international shipping and piracy).

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ But how about China, if we want to speak solely based on GDP? And if we want to bring European Union, which is not a country, into the game too, then their GDP was quite comparable to the US in 2017: $17.3 trillion vs $19.4! $\endgroup$
    – janicamexe
    Sep 10, 2018 at 8:28
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @janicamexe That's not the question though. If you somehow remove any one of them from the world economy things aren't going to go well for everyone else, but since the question was just about the US, that's what I answered. $\endgroup$
    – Teleka
    Sep 10, 2018 at 8:35
  • $\begingroup$ I am not convinced that GDP alone is the best indicator. After all, a grain of wheat harvested in the USA and consumed in the USA is part of the USA GDP but does not affect the rest of the world. $\endgroup$
    – SJuan76
    Sep 10, 2018 at 10:06
  • $\begingroup$ @SJuan76 Sure it does. Every grain of our own wheat we eat is one less grain of wheat other countries can try to sell us. $\endgroup$
    – zibadawa timmy
    Sep 10, 2018 at 10:52
  • $\begingroup$ @zibadawatimmy if the world is "without the USA" (as per the OP's question) then the other countries cannot sell it anything. $\endgroup$
    – SJuan76
    Sep 10, 2018 at 11:48

The answer is yes, also because the global economy is highly interconnected in total. If there would be no trade possible between two economic areas, it would have an impact on the economy globally. The Germany US example would change Germany a lot. The US is an important market for the car manufacturers, the chemical and pharma industry. Eight of thirty DAX enterprises are in this businesses. Here is a press release of the German association of car industry, which shows some gladness about the absence of disturbances in the NAFTA. For the engineering industry, which is maybe the most important for the german economy, the US is still the biggest trade partner outside of the EU.

How Germany could survive such scenario is hard to estimate. The trade with Russia would be intensified and could maybe compensate some loss. If this would be not possible Germany would have really hard times economically.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.