Germany Has Passed Japan for Third Largest World Economy

Official data has reports Japan economy in 2023 was $4.2 trillion in 2023, while Germany’s was $4.5 trillion. The U.S., the world’s largest economy, is expected to grow 5.8% to $26.94 trillion. China’s economy, the world’s second-largest, is forecast to shrink 1.0% to $17.7 trillion.

Germany tripled from the 1990s to today. The Japan and German were tied in 1970-1972. In 1979, Germany was 80% of Japan’s economy. Germany began reunification with East Germany in 1990. After German unification in October 1990, the economic performance of western Germany was initially strong. However, it deteriorated by 1992 and remained dismal for the remainder of the 1990s. During this time, the unemployment rate nearly doubled, as GDP growth averaged a meager 1.5 percent per year. Japan had an exceptional surge through the 1980s and into the 1990s. Japan had an economic bubble from 1986 to 1991. The Euro was launched in 1999 and it was an invisible currency for 3 years.

Germany won with reunification but it too about ten years to get the benefits. Germany won with the European Union and the switch to the Euro. Japan had an inflated economy from the the late eighties into the 1990s.

Japan will fall behind India in 2024, 2025 or 2026. This will depend upon currency exchange rates.

India will pass Germany around 2027.

In 2000, Japan’s economy was the second-largest in the world, at $4.96 trillion, larger than it is today. At the time, its economy was 2.5 times bigger than that of Germany and 4.1 times bigger than China’s.

Here is the GDP of the top countries in the world in the 1990s.

Everyone knows about the huge rise of China. China grew its economy on an exchange rate basis by 20-30 times over the past 30 years.

Italy, France, Germany doubled or close to tripled their economies.

The USA quadrupled its economy from 30 years ago.

Canada tripled and could quadruple its economy.

India is roughly 10X its economy for the matching year 30 years ago.

16 thoughts on “Germany Has Passed Japan for Third Largest World Economy”

  1. “ An analysis of all 16 German states showed that those Bundesländer with a high proportion of foreign workers have lower unemployment and higher levels of risk capital investment. Significantly more patents are filed too.”

    “Immigrants make up 9.6% of the population and one in five Germans has a migration background”

    BTW I know one high-skill worker (with Muslim heritage) who left the UK for Germany due to Brexit.

    • Thanks for this interesting corroboration. Brian is right to point to population as a factor in economic vitality and it’s so hard getting the people who sleepwalk through life to recognized the dire danger. You don’t skate to where the hockey puck is; you skate to where it’s going. Understanding the challenges we face decades in the future requires following the statistical trends already underway – which is why today’s trouble in Germany and Japan was apparent back in the 1990s when I read articles in _The Economist_.

      The pursuit of internal devaluation by Germany and Japan in the 1990s has lead these countries into their demographic dead ends today. The two contrasts are stark. Japan is contracting because of its cultural hostility to immigration while Germany and other quarters of austerity-riddled Europe have been spared from the brunt of this bad economics through migration. This is not sustainable, though, in the long run because other countries run out of workers you can import.

      Families are like every other resource; they require investment. Corporate corruption has created waves of disinvestment across the Western world and falling birthrates are a result of what happens when you take your eyes off the basic ingredients for economic growth like decent but affordable services. There is no way around the financial investment required for having and raising quality children.

      More of the same old policies of tax cuts for the rich and outlawing abortion will only make the problem worse. Women can’t be bullied into having children they can’t afford. Many have been terrified into choosing permanent sterilization in alarming numbers or moved. While voters are fleeing certain blue states because of zoning, homelessness and high housing prices, educated and skilled workers have also started fleeing red states over Dobbs and culture wars. These states are also terrifying obgyns into fleeing, leaving them with a shortage of affordable healthcare for childbirth which places the lives of mothers and babies at risk – the exact opposite of the stated goals of the “pro-life” movement (“Doh!,” as the immortal bard of our age would say).

      In the short run, large scale unskilled migration taxes public services, drives down wages and raises housing costs. But immigration over the long term – of any quality – unquestionably raises potential growth, even if it sucks up short term resources. Germany, in this case, gets a shot of revitalization – but also right-wing ethnofascism. (It’s not “populism.” The Populists were opposed to corporate power and government corruption. The fascists believe in a mafia state of, by and for corporate profit.)

      There are obvious limits to immigration – especially in regions subjected to disinvestment and deindustrialization (internal devaluation/deflationary austerity). To illustrate, America has seen three periods of immigration at these high volumes:

      1) The run up to the Civil War, when free-thinking Germans fled the failed European revolutions of 1848, arrived in America and were instantly hostile to Southern planter interests because their entitled attitudes reminded them of the corrupt Prussian aristocracy they’d just fled. The shift in population into the North broke the Southern slave-holders’ grip on DC granted them by the three-fifths clause. The 1860 election tipped the South into paranoia, lashing out and rebellion.

      2) The first Red Scare around WWI. Not only did this era stir up anti-union sentiment but it saw the first revival of KKK violence – and, peculiarly, with a social club/multi-level marketing scam glommed on to boot.

      3) Today. Coupled with rent-seeking real estate industry practices driving housing costs up through asset inflation, health cost inflation, etc. this influx is setting off a powder keg, taxing housing, school budgets and so on.

      Citizens don’t like hearing that foreigners have a “right” to immigrate; they don’t. Immigration is a policy decision up to every individual country. Foreigners don’t have rights under a constitution the way actual citizens do. But likewise, if you don’t have enough children and you don’t have immigrants to “replace” the lost births, you have terrible economic consequences. Denying these tradeoffs isn’t helpful.

      Donald Trump could double American conceptions for twenty years and that still wouldn’t come close to repairing the economic damage he’ll do if he implements his immigration deportation camps. Restoring American manufacturing and revitalizing our families requires a lot of careful, thoughtful reform. Even Biden falls short here, but at least he’s turning the corner.

      The moral of the story: Don’t bail out crooked bankers who destroy their institutions; put them in prison and take bankruptcy. Don’t socialize their losses like we’ve done all over the West with financial crimes for the last forty years. You’re taking money from families who need it to bail out criminals. This only incentivizes more criminal behavior and then the next wave is worse. If you don’t like shoplifters nicking hundreds of bucks in merch, you should really, really hate conmen defrauding banks of hundreds of *millions* of bucks.

      Where’s that respect for private property rights, comrade?

  2. Germany pursued internal devaluation throughout the 1990s to give themselves a de facto export subsidy when the Deutsche mark was replaced by the euro. This domestic disinvestment and deindustrialization in the old East Germany continues to stoke right wing fascism today the same way the American response to the 2008 banking implosion has done. These tribal eruptions are common after deflationary financial panics and pandemics, especially when they’re unmet by Keynesian fiscal stabilization.

    Japan itself has suffered from domestic disinvestment relative to its export industries. Mercantilism is killing both Japan and Germany – not to mention Germany’s mercantilism is killing most of the rest of Europe. You can measure this slow loss of vitality in the falling birthrates. Both of these countries have made bad tradeoffs accepting deflation over inflation (though measured per capita, Japan’s recent Keynesian turn has actually produced growing GDP – it’s just that the capitas are still shrinking, dragging down overall GDP).

    Biden’s attempt to return manufacturing to America is the only major attempt to reverse this deindustrialization in America since it started.

    Recent inflation was caused by pandemic deaths disrupting supply chains, a major war in Europe and corporate greed – evidenced by the fact corporate profits were not squeezed by inflation, an indicator of cartels squeezing competitiveness out of the economy. You’re not really a “free” market when there’s only one choice for a bunch of products.

    And, oh yeah. Immigration is dragging down federal debt and boosting GDP. Speaking of the deficit, voters are upset because the deficit is falling quickly (fiscal contraction), monetary supply is contracting and interest rates are up under Biden. The charts are stark. Voters fondly remember that freebie Covid money from Trump that you claim sparked inflation, which it did not. Inflation is now falling quickly, but all the voting models I remember from graduate school say there’s a lag in sentiment and the decline started too late to be helpful for Biden in November.

    If Trump cuts income taxes on the rich, he’ll either take on more debt, cut services (more fiscal contraction) or raise sales taxes (more product inflation). This segregationist Congress opened with a proposal to replace income taxes with a federal sales tax of 30%. Talk about price inflation. States like Florida and Texas have made exactly this regressive tradeoff.

    Since this blog discusses war and national security matters, let’s recap recent events with Trump.

    The NATO Treaty, having been ratified by the Senate, is the “supreme law of the land.” By law then, an unprovoked attack on any NATO member is an attack on all the other members, including America, according to Article V. There is no budgetary exception to this trigger. During his presidency, Trump told a NATO member nation that he would encourage a Russian attack if that member did not spend enough on defense – presumably, purchases of American military hardware from his campaign donors (as opposed to the personal payoff he tried to extract from Ukraine and for which he was impeached). In legal essence, Trump said he would encourage an enemy nation’s attack on America if other foreigners did not pay enough shakedown money.

    Polish Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski pointed out that Article V’s mutual defense pact was only activated once – after the 9/11 attacks on America. “Poland then sent an army brigade to Afghanistan for a decade and we did not send an invoice to Washington for it.”

    The term “treason” is often tossed around in American politics but siding with America’s enemy during a military attack on us actually is treason. This is also an admission that Trump intends to violate his oath of office before he even takes it again.

    Domestically, children born on American soil have been American citizens ever since the Fourteenth Amendment overturned the Dred Scott (1857) decision which left such citizenship decisions to states. Dred Scott helped precipitate the Civil War, which supposedly settled this birthright citizenship issue. Donald Trump now wants to invoke the Insurrection Act against his enemies so he can summon the National Guard to round up and deport – among others – those who are legally citizens because they were born on American soil even though their parents were not citizens. That’s another intention to violate his oath of office – but also to deploy violent force on a law-abiding segment of America’s citizenry – which is, itself, the very definition of insurrection, the waging of war to interrupt the proper functions of government.

    In an act of yet more sociopathic projection, Donald Trump wants to wage war on Americans using the peaceful, law-abiding actions of his enemies as his justification.

    Donald Trump stands accused of stealing top secret nuclear weapon documents when he left the White House so he can leverage them for his personal gain. He has stated openly – as with his NATO treason – that he thinks he has a right to do this. In an extraordinary break with legal precedent, the district court judge trying his case, Aileen Cannon, wants to help Trump learn the names of the witnesses against him so he can intimidate them. Place Trump’s possession of national secrets in the context of his sympathetic statements about our enemies, his intent to aid them in war on America and his contempt for the safety of actual citizens paying government salaries.

    Why is he still free on bail?

    Now consider the Supreme Court’s trivialization of his attempt to pull off a coup.

    This was an insurrection, not a riot. There are convictions in the federal record for insurrection on that day (a material “misrepresentation” by Trump’s attorney). These insurrectionists plotted in advance, brought weapons into D.C. and were in open communication with Trump, taking his orders: “Proud Boys stand back and stand by,” Trump announced loudly in a public debate. “Standing by, yes sir,” they responded. Four of Trump’s coconspirators – some attorneys – have already pled guilty in Georgia’s racketeering case to crimes involving Ku Klux Klan-style racist attacks on election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss – exactly the type of Confederacy resurgence the Fourteenth Amendment is designed to thwart. Freeman and Moss have already won a near $100 million judgement for defamation against Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani. And the tentacles of their cookie cutter fake elector conspiracy stretched across the country (and involved the wife of Justice Clarence Thomas).

    The Supreme Court itself was a target of the Segregationist Insurrection on January 6th, 2021. If the Court keeps Trump on the ballot, not only will they be perjuring their oaths by ignoring the plain language of the Fourteenth Amendment but on a practical level they will be siding with the Insurrectionists against the security forces there to protect them. How many of those forces will show up to protect government officials during a second attack when those officials have betrayed them?

    I have not seen such reckless disregard for personal wellbeing since reading about overthrown Roman emperors disrespecting their Praetorian Guard in high school Latin class. (See Putin and the fallout with his late taste-tester Yevgeny Prigozhin.)

    The Civil War victory of the Union is now being fully relitigated in an explicit attempt to return the Confederacy to life.

    The corruption of government officials was legalized in the 1970s by Supreme Court decisions equating bribery with free speech. Since then, public officials have become habituated to allowing wealthy oligarchs to break the law and inured to their impunity – to the point of suicidal stupidity. Trump marks the latest point in this long slide into the moral cesspool.

    Perhaps the most appropriate question Congress should have asked Claudine Gay is, “Why are your Ivy League law schools churning out so many corrupt and myopic flunkies?”

    Like corporate lawyers, corporate journalists are also downplaying the threat, siding with Jamie Dimon, who loves Trump’s tax cuts.

    If you believe in equality before the law then swap around the names “Trump” and “Biden” and reread this posting and then tell me what you think about these stone cold facts. Not waging war on your own country is a pretty low bar to clear. And having a stutter is not the same as being a demented sociopath found guilty of running fraudulent enterprises and raping women.

    • Dear God, that was a lot of TDS. I’m glad smart people like you understand the world so I can just sit home and be a drooling fool making banana bread with generation alpha on a Saturday in February. I’m not sure why Brian is allowing such lengthy partisan flames.

      • Yeah, I got to “Biden’s attempt to return manufacturing to America is the only major attempt to reverse this deindustrialization in America since it started.” and nearly fell off my chair laughing.

        • This is a blog post on industrial policy and economic growth. If you think the CHIPS act is funny then name a bigger federal effort in the last sixty years to return a manufacturing industry to America. It’s a simple question. Tell us of a more ambitious policy. Tariffs don’t exactly send waves of semiconductor engineers to college for training.

          As to Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, if you don’t like the peace deal America reached with the Taliban – and I sure didn’t – then blame the man who negotiated it: Trump. Biden should have never honored it.

          The real people who botched that withdrawal: the military contractors. They ran from their posts and no one was left to maintain the Afghan air force. Had the real military built their defenses, at least the incumbent regime would have held out longer, but that was a problem twenty years in the making.

          We’ll have a hell of a conflict with China if frontline forces have to ship back to contractors every broken piece of hardware from simple generators to complex aircraft engines, especially when components come from overseas. We used to field equipment that the Corps of Engineers was allowed to fix on the fly with domestic parts. But we outsourced our manufacturing industries and we’ve outsourced government functions themselves to the same private contractors/hedge funds outsourcing that manufacturing. We don’t produce our own drugs much less the mundane hardware and what we do produce is hardly efficient because of predatory rent-seeking by finance, real estate, insurance, food, nutrition, medicine and now pot and narcotics.

          Because of disease-inducing, for-profit nutrition and the predatory pot/heroin industries our youth are too fat, unhealthy, high or incarcerated to produce enough new recruits to adequately staff military operations. Antisocial media’s not helping. (Russia is worse off with its health/demographic time bomb and China’s not far behind.)

          You think it was a coincidence that during the age of the Orwellian titled _Citizens United_ case enshrining corporate personhood and the bribery-as-free-speech doctrine that we had the two longest, most expensive and least determinative wars in American history?

          It was by design. We put more military contractors in Afghanistan and Iraq than regular U.S. military – because Marines can’t make campaign donations to politicians but contractors can. “Privatization” is the way crooks bypass Progressive Era budgetary controls to pocket, in this case, the government defense budget. (The same scam also works for education, health and any other “public-private” partnership.)

          What makes you think a for-profit military contractor would ever win a war? If they win the war, they’re out of money. If they lose the war, they’re out of money. Show me a business that’s in business to go out of business and I’ll show you the perfect public-private partnership. Vast palettes of cash disappeared off airplanes in those wars and no one in corporate media reported the story because that’s how things were supposed to work. Those guys lining their pockets were their advertisers. (So much for for-profit news/information.)

          Are the life extension experiments mentioned periodically here designed to sell patented treatments or produce cost-effective delays in aging using cheap generics?

          We have a cheap, generic preventative for multiple sclerosis – helminths – and we’ve known about it for fifty years. Yet no patient advocacy group demands it or lobbies for it. Could that be because these groups are funded by Pharma company profits?

          Worms aren’t patented, don’t provide exclusive economic rents to a specific company, pay salaries for lobbyists and don’t supply a stream of campaign donations. Why would for-profit medicine cure any diseases? They’d be out of profit.

          The goal of the federal anti-cancer initiative isn’t to prevent cancers. It isn’t to cure cancers. It’s to turn cancer into a chronic condition requiring expensive periodic treatment. In other words, the approach to cancer is optimized for corporate profitability – rent extraction from the public – and not patient health and expense. It’s efficient for rent-seeking, not actual productivity. Don’t get me wrong; I think it’s great we fund R&D – but to what application?

          The same story applies to our addictive, for-profit privatized nutrition which has made our kids fat and diseased. The pot industry is going down that same road. How do you recruit fit troops out of that pool of wounded consumers?

          This is destroying the economy.

          I’m not necessarily anti-tech or pro-military; I’m a coder who swam in college with arthritis. I learned the hard way about junk food, medical fraud and corrupt corporate deception. After mercury poisoning wrecked my thiols, I had to do much of the medicine myself. All civilizations have to invest in productive activities and suppress/tax away socially useless, destructive behavior.

    • Mate, you need basic education in economics and that will tell you why capitalism, though imperfect, is by far the best option; what effects Tax cut actually have etc etc. Thomas Sowell might be a good source.

  3. No problem. Hope Trump is elected, so he can give another 1,5 trillion dollar to the rich, like he did in the past. Common working men will pay for it once more. After all he does it for the common man. He gives money to the rich(himself) and takes from common man for them. Can a member of rich corrupt elite skin a sheep twice?

    Not everything that does something for the ordinary Joe is extreme left or communist.
    There needs to be some balance, so the average Joe is not bled to death and can have a good life.

    • Trump giving 1.5 trillion to “the rich” is preferable than another term of Biden giving $2.5 trillion per year to the government so that the common working man can pay for it through inflation.

      “Can a member of rich corrupt elite skin a sheep twice?” Pelosi says “Why settle for skinning a sheep only two times?”.

    • Trump has his faults, like having a yuge ego. But he was miles better then Biden has been.
      This election, we have a unique opportunity, one that has only happened once before (Jackson & Adams), where each guy running, has had 1 term in office.
      Giving us voters, a picture perfect look into how they will run the country.
      *Trump is against illegal immigration, was constructing new fencing to secure the border.
      *Biden is in favor of illegal immigration, and stopped construction, and has since used the border patrol to hamper Texas’ ability to secure their border by removing razor wire, and giving illegal immigrants free food, housing, & spending money.

      *Trump was anti-war, no new conflicts started under him, and had a plan for a orderly withdrawal out of Afghanistan.
      *Biden left Afghanistan chaotically, with people clinging to C-17 landing gear (dying) just trying to leave the devolving country. Help insure a long bloody war between Russia & Ukraine by sending loads of military equipment, and even bigger loads of untraceable money to the most corrupt country on Earth. Also fighting the Iranian funded Houthis off the coast of Yemin.

      *Trump puts America first
      *Biden puts corruption first

      Biden’s Dementia has gotten so bad, they let him “run” the country, while saying he’s too old and senile to be convicted of his crimes.

      Trump was a great leader, and I think he will do so again, this time, without a man made virus from China to help take him down.

      • Ukraine is entirely Trump’s fault. His illegal withholding of aid to Ukraine for the personal gain of dirt on Hunter Biden gave Putin the nod and the wink to fully invade.

        Biden’s done a good job on getting the US economy going when the rest of the world is faltering. People only say Trump was better because they remember the ‘Trump checks’ during Covid. For all American individualism, bribery and dependency still works.

        The narrative is Biden having dementia is bogus. Listen to one of 77 year old Trump speeches, hes constantly losing himself and acting confused. Its said that Biden might not recognize his son, well Trump always confused other women for one of his wives.

        Biden stood up to Putin. Trump is a corrupt wail baby who thinks hes being bullied by Taylor Swift.

        • “Ukraine is Trump’s fault” I’m flabbergasted and constantly amazed people are this dumb.
          News flash, Ukraine isn’t the 51st state, Ukraine isn’t an ally, Ukraine isn’t a member of NATO, we should have ZERO connection to the skirmish between Ukraine & Russia.

          Trump & Biden are both old, but I’m no ageist, I have no problem with elderly people at the helm. But mental clarity is very important, and Biden should be finishing his few remaining years eating ice cream in Hospice, not pretending to be in charge of the United States.

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