America lost its lead as the world’s top manufacturer to China. That is in part the basis of the argument that China’s Gross Domestic Product will pass America’s sometime before the middle of the century. China’s rising population will continue to push its GDP growth higher. The same thing happened to the US from 1950 until 2000.
Some experts on the global economy argue that the demise of US industry will accelerate as unemployment remains high and the government wrestles with its budgetary problems. It would be a mistake, however, to assume that the US cannot keep its position as the world’s leading economy because some of its largest companies and their industries completely control many of the business sectors most critical to the future of global economic growth.
24/7 Wall St. looked at industries in which US corporations are leaders and chose those that are most likely to develop products and services which will allow global GDP growth to continue. American companies not only control these industries now, but they also will control them for some time because of their large leads in research and development.
The critical global needs of the 21st Century that 24/7 Wall St. reviewed were: the ability to organize and control information, the ability to cure disease, the ability to control the efficient use and distribution of natural resources, the ability to educate broad groups of people and the ability to transport people and cargo.
The American companies that are the leaders in providing solutions for each of these needs are often without parallel outside the US. If they do have competition, it is rare and usually a fraction of their size.
Many of the largest and most well-known corporations are not on this list. Apple is not because there is nothing that it makes that cannot be replicated in a number of other countries and by other firms. GM is not one the list because auto manufacturing is a nearly a commodity business. Exxon Mobil is not on the list because a number of other companies, such as PetroChina and BP, have assets nearly as large and similar expertise. AT&T is not on the list because there are a number of telecommunications companies just as large in Europe and Asia. They have the advantage of location, but no company has a technology that is more advanced than any other. Wal-Mart is not on the list because there are scores of other smaller retailers which do most of what Wal-Mart does.
24/7 Wall St. eventually identified 10 companies. The business world and economy could not operate as they do without them and this will probably be more the case in the future. America’s advantages due to these firms could falter if their ability to innovate stalls. Many experts have argued that America must have a better education system to maintain and expand its business advantages. People who worry about intellectual property theft and the eventual decline of America’s economic might may also be right. But, for now, as these companies exist today along with the global customers they serve, each has a substantial lead in a large and critical industry.