The calculations indicate how big a decade the emerging economies enjoyed, and how some industrialized countries -- most notably Japan -- struggled. While there is much pessimism about the United States at the beginning of this decade, the Goldman Sachs analysis suggested the world's largest and most dynamic economy fared rather well taking into account the dot-com crash on stock markets, the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and the financial crisis.

The report, released yesterday, laid out just how much of a leap the major emerging economies took last decade. The so-called BRIC countries --Brazil, Russia, India and China -- saw their combined nominal gross domestic product rise by more than US$6-trillion, to a level between US$8.5-trillion and US$9-trillion from a starting point of US$2.5-trillion in 2000. (For the purposes of its analysis, Goldman Sachs adjusted 2000 GDP to reflect 2003 prices.)

China alone accounted for more than half of the BRIC countries decade-long gain, as its GDP rose about US$3.7-trillion. Only the U.S. economy grew more, with its GDP adding US$4.7-trillion in the same time period. (Canada, meanwhile, added over US$500-billion.)

Still, Goldman Sachs said, "China added about 80% of what the U.S. did to the world [economy], even though it started the decade at about a ninth the size."

Outside of BRIC, however, there were other big winners, the analysts said. The largest GDP increases relative to their 2000 base took place in Russia, at 4.8 times bigger; Indonesia, 3.5; and Vietnam, 3.

"Many think Russia has been the big disappointment of the past decade, but we disagree," the report said.

Russia, among the world's top oil producers, was devastated by the across-the-board fall in commodity prices as a result of the great recession. As a result of the sharp drop in oil, Russia's GDP contracted more than 10% in the first half of last year and is only now turning the corner, as recent Russian data indicated GDP grew by a seasonally adjusted 1.9% in the fourth quarter.

And according to Goldman Sachs' forecast, Indonesia is one of the few countries that posted economic growth last year, of roughly 4.5%, and is expected to expand 5.8% this year.

Among the losers last decade, the report cited Japan.

Despite the yen's strength, Japan's GDP increased by "not much more" than US$300-billion. Mexico also fared poorly, Goldman Sachs said, adding US$300-billion, even though it is a significant energy producer.

For the decade ahead, Goldman Sachs said it expects the combined GDP of the BRIC countries, at nearly US$20-trillion, to exceed that of the United States.

Moreover, it currently expects China's economy to catch up to the United States in terms of size in 2027.


By Paul Vieira, Financial Post January 7, 2010