Just ran across this Gallup Poll from earlier this month, asking Americans which of China, the U.S., the E.U., Japan, Russia and India is the world’s leading economic power, now and in 20 years. China easily tops both lists, a contrast to when Gallup asked the same questions in 2000 and the U.S. was the clear leader.
Yet look at the numbers for the size of those economies and the order is 1. E.U., 2. U.S., 3. Japan, 4. China, 5. Russia, 6. India, with the E.U. and U.S. being five times bigger economies than China. Even if you use purchasing power parity rather than nominal GDP, China is still third.
The disparity between perception and reality that the poll reveals may go someway to explaining why Americans and Europeans are turning so protectionist right now.