Why Pick on Russia Rather Than China?


Here is a rather shallow analysis, but I think the differences are stark enough to make the point.

A Tale of Two Economies: Russia and the US.

According to 2016 first-quarter figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. GDP is around $18.1 trillion. Russia’s economy is roughly a tenth the size of the U.S.’ (the World Bank stated that Russia’s GDP in 2015 was $1.3 trillion.) According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, U.S. military expenditures in 2015 were 3.3 percent of GDP, and Russia’s were 5 percent of its GDP. That still puts Russia among the top five military spenders in the world, but in absolute terms it means Russia’s military expenditures add up to roughly 10 percent of U.S. military spending.

The world’s top economy: the US vs China in five charts.

Both the IMF and the World Bank now rate China as the world’s largest economy based on Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), a measure that adjusts countries’ GDPs for differences in prices. In simple terms, this means that because your money stretches further in China than it would in the US, China’s GDP is adjusted upwards.

And it won’t be too long before China’s economy surpasses the US’s by other measures, too. The Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) predicts it will happen in 2029.

Trade in Goods with Russia.

2018 : U.S. trade in goods with Russia

NOTE: All figures are in millions of U.S. dollars on a nominal basis, not seasonally adjusted unless otherwise specified.
Details may not equal totals due to rounding. Table reflects only those months for which there was trade.

Month Exports Imports Balance
January 2018 434.4 1,555.2 -1,120.7
TOTAL 2018 434.4 1,555.2 -1,120.7

Trade in Goods with China.

2018 : U.S. trade in goods with China

NOTE: All figures are in millions of U.S. dollars on a nominal basis, not seasonally adjusted unless otherwise specified.
Details may not equal totals due to rounding. Table reflects only those months for which there was trade.

Month Exports Imports Balance
January 2018 9,835.3 45,788.0 -35,952.8
TOTAL 2018 9,835.3 45,788.0 -35,952.8

Never let it be said that we don’t pick our adversaries well. We wouldn’t try so hard to pick a fight with a country that is large enough to really challenge us. Much smarter to pick on the comparative little guys. Especially when our trade dependency with this little guy is so much smaller.

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