Assessing Economic Performance

Course Project: Assessing Economic PerformanceThe United States (US) is considered to be the worlds largest and most technologically powerful economy in the world. The US has an estimated GDP of $15.1 trillion, and the per capita GDP, adjusted by purchasing power parity, of $48,100 US dollars, according to the CIA World Factbook, is the among the worlds highest.

The United States is a federal constitutional republic composed of a mixed economy, in which extremely powerful private individuals and business firms make most of the decisions, and the federal and state governments buy needed goods and services predominantly in the private marketplace. A central feature of the US economy is the economic freedom afforded to the private sector by allowing the private sector to make the majority of economic decisions in determining the direction and scale of what the US economy produces. The private sector has been the focal point for the availability of money and resources helping to pioneer technical advancements in science, technology, and industry that has profoundly shaped the economic success of the country, as well as contributed to its distinct political institutions, social structure, educational system, and cultural identity. As a result, the US is one of the worlds largest and most influential financial markets and is a leading economic, political, and cultural force in the world.Russia is the largest country in the world with an estimated GDP of $2.4 trillion, and a per capita GDP of $16,700 according to the CIA World Factbook.

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In 2011, Russia??™s gross domestic product grew by 4.2 percent, the world??™s third highest growth rate among leading economies in contrast to the -3.5 decrease in the growth rate of the US, making it one of the worlds fastest growing major economies. Russia has undergone significant changes since the collapse of the Soviet Union, moving from a centrally planned economy to a more mixed economy under a federal semi-presidential republic. Economic reforms in the 1990s privatized most industry, with notable exceptions in the energy and defense-related sectors.

Nonetheless, the rapid privatization process turned over many state-owned firms resulting in politically connected oligarchs, which has left equity ownership highly concentrated similar to the primary powers of the US. In 2011, Russia became the worlds leading oil producer, surpassing Saudi Arabia. Additionally, Russia is the second-largest producer of natural gas with the worlds largest natural gas reserves, the second-largest coal reserves, and the eighth-largest crude oil reserves. Russia is the third-largest exporter of both steel and primary aluminum. Other less competitive heavy industries remain dependent on the Russian domestic market with industries related to science and technology accounting for the more prevalent dynamic sectors of the economy.

However, Russias reliance on commodity exports makes it vulnerable to economic cycles that follow the highly volatile swings in global commodity prices.When examining the Russian economy, the first thing that needs to be considered is the sustainability of the current growth trends. Russias long-term challenges include a shrinking workforce, a high level of corruption, difficulty in accessing capital for smaller, non-energy companies, and poor infrastructure in need of large investments. Is the Russian government pursuing policies that are likely to constrain growth How much does corruption hinder economic expansion How are Russian leaders weighing the trade-offs of investing in infrastructure modernization, growing social welfare demands, and military modernization Is the development and distribution of Russia??™s vast energy resources driven more by political or commercial factorsThe fundamental question the US needs to answer concerns the degree to which Russian economic resurgence presents an opportunity or a threat to its interests. The US faces long-term problems include inadequate investment in deteriorating infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an aging population, sizable current account and budget deficits including significant budget shortages for state governments, energy shortages, and stagnation of wages in lower income families.

To what extent should the United States encourage deeper integration and interdependence In the realm of security, US policy toward Russia today broadly consists of contradictory tendencies toward engagement and containment. Both the US and Russia are at or near the same forefront in technological advances, especially in computers, medical, aerospace, and military equipment. However, these tendencies are also very relevant when considering the economic future of the Russian Federation.

With a highly advanced counterintelligence operational force active throughout the mainstream media working diligently to fabricate information, these questions will never end. The US may be considered as the most powerful in terms of monetary strength, however technologically, the country is being followed very close behind and in some aspects, even surpassed.Never in Russias history has the country been more prosperous or integrated into the global economy than it is now. Seemingly, this is a positive development and the achievement of one of the core goals of international policy toward Russia since the Soviet collapse. However, like many aspects of contemporary Russia, this phenomenon is highly controversial in Washington, often due to the conflicting nature of economic information.

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