Global trading has been a popular activity for centuries, allowing interaction between some of the most wealthy and powerful countries in the world. Economists have divided the economy into three sectors of activity: extraction of raw materials, manufactured goods and services, according to the Three-Sector Model. These are all very diverse and provide each country with a different avenue of profit that they are best known for in the financial markets.
The top 10 economies in the world contribute to around 66% of the world’s overall economy, and the top 20 economies contribute to around 79%, meaning that the remaining majority of world countries only equate to around 20% of the total global economy. This shows the immense power of the 10 richest countries listed in this article and their influence on global economic decisions.
Read on to discover some of the world's top financial securities that can be traded on our Next Generation trading platform, including global shares, indices, currency pairs, treasuries and raw materials. This information is up to date as of February 2021.
Most of the richest countries in the world have strong trading links with other competitor nations, as this is essential for global growth. This involves interaction between currencies, stock markets and commodities that are valuable to both buy and sell. There are stock exchanges in every major region of the world and often multiple exchanges per country. Unsurprisingly, the top five stock exchanges are based in New York, Tokyo, London and Shanghai, all global hubs for the world economy. Read more about stock market trading hours here.
Technically, the European Union has the world’s second largest economy, with an overall nominal GDP of $18.7 trillion. However, this is recognised as a political union and not a separate country; for this reason, it is not included in this list.
The easiest way to measure a country’s economy is through macroeconomic indicators, including the most popular listed below. These are important for measuring economic growth, inflation rates and exchange rates of local currencies.
These statistics come from the International Monetary Fund, updated as of October 2020. The two statistics reflect nominal GDP and GDP using PPP. The latter takes into account inflation rates of a country, as well as relative costs of goods and services, rather than simple market exchange rates. However, the nominal GDP is more commonly used to represent the overall figure of a country’s economy. Open an account to start trading on worldwide assets, including shares, indices, currencies and more.
Nominal GDP: $21.44 trillion
GDP (PPP): $20.81 trillion
The United States has held the position of the world’s strongest economy since 1871, after surpassing the United Kingdom at the time. The United States dollar (USD) is one of the strongest currencies in the world and the most popular currency to trade overall. It is frequently a component of major forex pairs, including some of the most traded currency pairs, such as the EUR/USD, USD/JPY and GBP/USD. For this reason, some traders consider the USD a ‘safe haven’ currency, and attempt to hedge the currency in periods of political or economic uncertainty.
In addition, the US is home to some of the largest market cap stocks in the world, including blue-chip companies in diverse sectors such as Amazon (e-commerce), Microsoft (technology), Coca-Cola (consumer goods), Visa (finance) and Johnson & Johnson (healthcare). These all feature on the Dow Jones Industrial Average stock index, which is made up of 30 blue-chip companies that act as a benchmark for industry standards. The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and NASDAQ are the top stock exchanges in the world according to market capitalisation.
The US is the world’s largest supplier of crude oil, making up around 18% of the world’s production. It overtook Saudi Arabia as the number one spot in 2013. Some of the world’s largest market cap oil stocks are based in the US, including Exxon Mobil, BP (shared between the UK and US) and Chevron. Many oil rigs are found within the Gulf of Mexico and its neighbouring states, including Texas and Louisiana. Learn more about crude oil trading.
Nominal GDP: $14.14 trillion
GDP (PPP): $27.80 trillion
Although China’s purchasing power parity is of a higher figure, its nominal GDP is significantly less than that of the US, leaving it second of the richest countries in the world. However, many consider PPP to be a more indicative and truthful representation of the economy, as it takes into consideration price inflation. China is the world’s largest manufacturing economy and exporter of goods, as well as being the largest country for international trade. The size gap between the US and China’s overall nominal GDP has shrunk significantly over recent years and market analysts predict that China will one day surpass the US in both nominal GDP and PPP aspects.
China’s tech industry is particularly popular with traders, as these are some of the largest and blue chip companies in the world, including Alibaba, JD.com and Baidu. Our China Tech share basket allows you to trade on multiple Chinese tech stocks by opening just one position. Furthermore, China is a major contributor to the 5G industry, as well as gaming, streaming services, and mobile phone development.
In terms of agriculture, China has the world’s largest agricultural economy that accounts for around 10% of the country’s GDP, in comparison with other developed countries on this list, including the UK and the US, where agriculture only accounts for around 1% of their national GDP. This makes China an all-rounder in terms of global exporting.
Nominal GDP: $5.15 trillion
GDP (PPP): $5.45 trillion
Japan is known for its thriving automobile industry, with notable brands such as Mitsubishi, Toyota, Honda, Suzuki and Nissan contributing to a large proportion of profits. Japan’s equivalent of the Dow Jones 30 is the Nikkei 225 stock index, which represents a benchmark of blue chip companies within the Japanese economy. These are all listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, as well as being available internationally. The index features a number of stocks from different sectors, including technology, transportation, consumer goods and finance. You can invest into the Nikkei 225 through a number of exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The Daiwa ETF – Nikkei 225 and iShares Nikkei 225 ETF are both are available to trade as CFDs on our online trading platform.
Japan has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the world of just 2.3%. However, it also has the highest number of elders in any population worldwide, which economists fear may have a negative impact on Japan’s economy growth in the future. Therefore, the Japanese government are working to keep the elderly population more active and increase the fertility rate, so that the economy is not compromised. Despite this, the Japanese yen (JPY) is one of the most traded currencies in the world, along with the currency pair USD/JPY. JPY has an inverse correlation with the Nikkei 225 index, meaning that when stocks are performing well, the yen appears weaker, prompting traders to invest in the safe haven JPY when their stock portfolio is under threat.
Nominal GDP: $3.86 trillion
GDP (PPP): $4.16 trillion
Germany is the leader of Europe’s largest economies and relies heavily on the export of high-quality manufactured goods. There are a variety of sectors represented within the German stock market. The DAX 30 is also an equivalent of the Dow Jones 30 stock index, holding 30 blue-chip stocks on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange, which is the 10th largest stock exchange in the world by market capitalisation. Adidas, BMW, Deutsche Bank, Merck and SAP are just a few of the established names that make up the DAX 30.
You can spread bet or trade CFDs on the price movements of underlying shares on our platform, Next Generation, without taking ownership of the actual asset. This involves the use of leverage. Alternatively, you can also trade on the price movements of exchange-traded funds; one of our top ETFs that tracks the underlying German index is the iShares Core DAX UCITS ETF.
Aside from a successful stock exchange, German’s treasury market contributes to its role as one of the largest economies in the world. Its debt securities and government bonds have maturities of around 10 to 30 years and are considered medium-term and long-term bonds. Germany’s bond index reflects US treasury bonds. These include the long-term Euro Bund, medium-term Euro Bobl and short-term Euro Schatz bonds.
Nominal GDP: $2.94 trillion
GDP (PPP): $11.32 trillion
Despite India being fifth on this list, it is actually third in terms of PPP rankings. India has the fastest growing economy in the world and has increased its size by six times since 2000. It is described as a developing market economy, as it tends to depend on supply and demand from other countries.
India is one of the largest suppliers in the world of commodities, where 66% of the population work in agricultural and food production. This includes milk, fruits and vegetables, seafood, rice, wheat, cattle, sugarcane and cotton. India contributes to the world’s economy in terms of textiles production, natural resources, coal, cement, automobiles, and it is a huge exporter of crude oil and natural gas. Read our guide on how to trade commodities to find the best strategies for investing in our selection of raw materials. You can also spread bet and trade CFDs on our commodity indices, which contain multiple assets from within the same sector in one trade. These include an Agricultural Index and a Precious Metals Index.
Nominal GDP: $2.74 trillion
GDP (PPP): $2.98 trillion
The United Kingdom has one of the world’s most globalised economies and international trade plays an important role in the economy. The services sector contributes to around 80% of overall GDP, with a particular focus on banking and finance, as the UK is the world’s second largest financial centre, after New York. The UK’s central bank is the Bank of England, which is responsible for setting interest rates and keeping a stable cost of living across the nation. It is possible to trade on share price movements of a number of leading UK banks, including Barclays, HSBC and Lloyds, with our new UK Banks share basket.
A leader in the aerospace industry, the UK has helped to develop many popular aircrafts models in collaboration with foreign manufacturers, such as Boeing and Airbus. The pharmaceutical industry is also very prominent and has contributed towards research and development, retail, prescription drugs and vaccine development during times of medical emergency. Some top pharma stocks in the UK right now are GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and AstraZeneca.
One of the most popular stock indices in the world to trade is the FTSE 100, which consists of the UK’s top 100 companies by market capitalisation. This index represents the highest performing stocks in the UK, including those mentioned above. Learn more about trading the FTSE 100 here. This index helps to place the UK as the sixth richest country in the world.
Nominal GDP: $2.71 trillion
GDP (PPP): $2.86 trillion
Aside from being the most visited tourist destination in the world, France has a high GDP per capita, meaning that there is a high standard of living within the country. France relies heavily on tourist income for its booming economy, but it also is a world leader in the chemical, pharmaceutical and automobile industries. In particular, Sanofi is the world’s fifth largest pharmaceutical company, Groupe PSA is the world’s sixth largest car manufacturer and Total is one of the seven major oil companies in the world. Read more about spread betting and trading CFDs on our EU Automobiles share basket. These large-cap stocks offer promising returns in the stock market.
France has a particularly large agricultural presence within the global markets and accounts for one third of agricultural land in Europe. It is known for the production of high-quality produce, including cheese, wine, poultry, dairy products and wheat, which are the main exports. Around 90 million tourists visit France each year to experience this fine culture and standard of living, and tourism accounts for around 10% of nominal GDP, as well as supporting around 11% of domestic employment.
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Nominal GDP: $1.99 trillion
GDP (PPP): $2.24 trillion
Italy’s economy is divided between the north and south regions of the country. The highly industrialised north contributes towards the majority of the country’s economy, whereas the south appears less developed with higher poverty levels a much higher unemployment rate. Following the 2008 financial crisis, unemployment rates started to soar, peaking at 12.7% in 2014 and mostly affecting the younger generations. However, this figured has managed to decrease to an average of 9.9% in 2019, which is a considerably lower rate.
Italy is the largest hub for luxury goods in Europe and third worldwide. Their manufacturing sector comprises of many small and medium-cap companies within the “industrial triangle” of Italy: Milan, Turin and Genoa. These can be promising in terms of growth, and when trading small and medium-cap stocks, traders could take a look at the company’s fundamentals to see whether they will be a good investment. The northern regions of Italy tend to reflect automotive, aerospace and other technical industries, whereas the southern regions usually focus on more family-run businesses, as well as the production of textiles, tools and commodities.
Nominal GDP: $1.85 trillion
GDP (PPP): $3.32 trillion
Brazil has been going through a phase of economic depression since 2015, due to many fundamental factors, such as fiscal reforms, falling commodity export prices and political strikes. However, it is still one the world’s largest economies in terms of agriculture, mining and manufacturing. In particular, it is the world’s primary source of coffee (Arabica and Robusta), exporting approximately 2.7 million metric tonnes each year, as well as other commodities.
Brazil is considered as one of the “BRICS”, an association of major emerging national economies, along with other countries on this list and outside of the top 10 economies. Brazil is becoming more urbanised each year and as a result, there is high potential for its industrial sectors. The land contains mineral reserves that are available to trade within the commodities markets, with metals such as iron, tin, copper, as well as granite, gold, natural gas and petroleum.
Brazil is also a major contender within the renewable energy sector, as the amount of river systems and rainfall help its potential for creating hydroelectric power within Brazil’s dams. Read more about renewable energy stocks.
Nominal GDP: $1.73 trillion
GDP (PPP): $1.80 trillion
Canada is famous for its mining of precious metals and is home to some of the largest gold production companies in the world, which has had an enormous affect on its overall economy. Goldcorp was once the largest gold supplier in the world, before it merged with US-owned Newmont Corporation in 2019, leading to a rebrand of Newmont Goldcorp Corporation. Barrick Gold, Yamana Gold and Kinross Gold, along with other Canadian gold stocks, are all listed on major international exchanges and available to trade on our platform. Read our article on how to trade gold, including through our new Gold share basket.
Canada has one of the best employment rates worldwide, with an average yearly unemployment rate of around 5-6%, although this has jumped significantly since the COVID-19 pandemic. This is partially due to its prominence within the services and manufacturing sectors, as supply and demand is growing consistently, along with opportunities for work.
An emerging market is a country that is expected to grow, whether this be in terms of GDP, production of goods and services, or investment opportunities. Some of the fastest growing economies in the world right now include ones that are featured on the above list, including Brazil, China and India. However, other countries that have also shown promising growth in recent years include Russia, Mexico, Egypt, Indonesia and Turkey. It has been shown that over half of global growth is made up of these emerging markets, which may prove to be competitors for the title of the richest country in the world one day.
You can start trading the global markets now by setting up a spread betting or CFD trading account. We offer access to more than 330 forex pairs in the FX market, which is the highest in the industry, including the US dollar, Euro, Japanese yen and many more exotic and emerging currencies. More than 7,750 shares and exchange-traded funds are available to trade as spread bets and CFDs on our trading platform, as well as government bonds, treasuries and over 90 commodity assets.
After registering to trade within some of the world’s top economies, you will have full access to our award-winning trading platform, Next Generation. One of the highlights of Next Generation is our news and analysis section, which is updated daily with expert advice and commentary from our market analysts. In addition, we also have external data from trusted financial organisations, such as Reuters and Morningstar, who provide stock market updates and reports on fundamental analysis. Our economic calendar of key events can also be customised to your personal taste. Explore our platform now to see all of our exclusive charting features.
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