Big Shifts in the Economies of Nations, 2012-2017

The daily and weekly news informs us, relentlessly, of the economic progress, or lack thereof, in the major nations and groups of nations (the European Union, in particular), and occasionally in the ‘developing nations.’

It is difficult to keep all the reports in mind, as they accumulate, to develop a clear picture of trends. So, a look back at a five year period may help to create such a picture.

Here are two simple charts measuring ‘gross domestic product’ (GDP) in selected countries and the EU–that is, the top ten in production.


  1. The EU, the USA, and China together produce around 60% of all the measured goods and services in the world.
  2. The ‘top ten’ (which includes the 28 countries of the European Union) produce between 80% and 85% of all the measured goods and services in the world.
  3. Russia, always in the news regarding power plays and asserted international mischief, generates 2%, around the same as Canada.
  4. There are 195 member states in the United Nations; 158 of these, in the aggregate, produce no more than 20%, less than either the EU or the USA.
  5. China’s share of world GDP has increased around 75% in these five years, while world GDP has increased around 15%.—


  1. In the five years studied here, the only ‘top ten’ polities gaining ground are those in the EU (that is, the average of these 28 countries), Brazil, the USA, India and China. Those in this list having lost ground are Mexico, Canada, Australia, Russia, and Japan. All the other countries in the world lost ground (in the average of these nations) at around 8% over the five years.
  2. I see an imbalance in the productivity (I will call it ‘commercial opportunity’) among nations, and therefore a power imbalance which may, if these trends continue, destabilize relations between nations and groupings of nations.
  3. Perhaps we measure only that which is conveniently measurable, not other important things which are not measured or not measurable, which tend to ameliorate any negative measured trends in any given county or groupings of countries.


I don’t feel good about the trends represented here, nor our dependence on only a few measured thing to tell us how we, in any given polity, are performing for the protection and general welfare of the people.

There ARE other measurements to assess and rank the countries in the world, but I haven’t examined them and have no opinion of these:

Social Progress Index

Human Development Index

Open Government Index

Index of Economic Freedom

The Legatum Prosperity Index

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Report from Hotel Seaport, Turku, Finland: The Old and New

Turku has been known as a lively trading post as early as the Iron Age, when Baltic, Swedish, and Novgorodian merchant ships sailed to the banks of the River Aura to trade goods. Turku became one of the key ports in the Baltic Sea in the 13th century when the cogs of Hanseatic traders dominated the view in the river harbor. (Source). (Why and how I got to Turku is in a footnote.)

The day was not sunny, and sightly damp. I walked from the harbor to the city center along the path that borders the western side of the River Aura. I will let the pictures say most of the story of “old and new”.

These four panels were in horizontal sequence, shown vertically here:

Across from the street art:

Main attraction of the Maritime Museum:

Upriver from the museum:

And more art:

I took the pedestrian ferry for a short trip across the river, to the east side:

I crossed back over a bridge around 100 meters further to look back at the ferry:

As I got back to the western side of the river, I was relieved to see that Turku is keeping vaudeville alive:

Fun in Turku:

There’s a story behind this old building, showing the second level above street level…

This is the Volunteer Fire Brigade Building, commissioned and financed by the  apothecary, shipowner, industrialist, and philanthropist Erik Julin, whose image appears at the entrance…

A main thoroughfare next to the building is named after Mr. Julin (in Finnish and Swedish, ‘Erik’s Street’):

More art along the way to the main square:

I was not expecting the old main square to be in the middle of major renewal:

As it now began to rain and I was several kilometers from my hotel, I asked a taxi driver to take me back. He arrived from Somalia ten years ago with his wife. He speaks Somali, Finnish, English and Arabic… and a little Swedish. His three young children are new Finns.

I arrived Turku last evening from Stockholm on a ferry operated by one of the two maritime companies which transport passengers (including automobiles) and commercial truckers several times daily, always stopping at the autonomous region of Åland which lies between the two ports. Other ports served by ferries leaving Turku are in Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and three others in Finland, including one near the Russian border.

I am here to read and write and to do nothing, if I want. It’s a little vacation from the habits and routines of daily life.  Here is where I am staying: Hotel Seaport, on the right in the picture, a former warehouse. You see nearby a ferry of Viking Line. What is not in the picture is the nearby entrance to the Silja (“Seal”) Line on which I arrived and will depart in around 24 hours.



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