The United States Economy is the biggest economy in the world. Its Gross National Product (GNP) was estimated in US$14.2 trillion in 2009, which is approximately twice the GNP of the second biggest economy in the world, China.
The American economy has a high rate of production per capita (GNP per capita of US$46,442 in 2009, 10th place in the world ranking). Historically, the American economy has kept a steady GNP growth-rate, low unemployment rates, high rates of researches and investment financed by the national capital and foreign investors, due to the decrease of savings rates. In 2009 consumer’s expenditure represented 71% of the American GNP.
Since the 70s the American economy has absorbed savings from the rest of the world. This phenomenon is discussed among the economists. As in other developed countries, the United States face a retracted bay boom, what makes the population withdraw their money from Social Security. However, the American population is still young when compared to the Japanese or European. The American public debt is US$12 trillion and is growing on a rate of US$3.83 billion every day.
The job market attracts immigrants from all over the world and the USA has one of the highest immigration rates of the world. The American earn the most for overtime. The United States is, for the first time, placed in the secong place on the Global Competitiveness Report, due to the effects of the economical crisis.
The country has the largest and most influent financial market in the world, being home to the biggest and most important stock and commodities exchanges, such as NASDAQ, NYSE, AMEX and CME.
The United States, having one ofthe most powerful and most influent economies of the world, has commercial treaties with several countries around the world. The United States is a member of NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), which also has as member Canada and Mexico. Canada is, without questions, the biggest American commercial partner, followed by Japan and Mexico.
The USA is also part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), an economic block that aims the transformation the Pacific region into a free-trade area and that has several Asian, American and Oceania countries as member. The USA is part of the G8, a political and economical group that assembles seven of the most economically powerful countries plus Russia.
It is also important to point out that the United States has nowadays the highest external debt of the world. They have the highest GNP and also the highest foreign debt, which means that they consume much more than produce.
Curiosities about the USA
Despite being a huge country and very particular in each of its reagions (just like in Brazil), some things are a rule-of-thumb across the country.
- In the USA, rules are made to be followed. That is why it is virtually impossible to bend the law or use “the Brazilian way”in order to get things done out of agreed prices and deadlines.
- Safety is a very important issue for Americans. It is usual to find houses with walls and fences, unlocked cars in external garages and unlocked houses, all due to the fact that population is sure that the safety provided by the state is enough. Speaking of which, police is everywhere – on foot and in vehicles.
- It is a common practice to tip. Not tipping is often seen as rude. If you like the service or was benefited from someone’s service, it is almost an obligation to tip.
- Law obedience is also seen in traffic. The maximum established speed is always strictly followed. Pedestrian lanes are respected. School buses are respected. The laws are taught since an early age and the driver’s license is granted when the person is 16 years-old.
- Know the city you are planning to visit. In some cities that are neighborhoods divided by ethnicities (also called ghettos) and it can be considered offensive to be in a certain neighborhoods after a determined hour if you have a different ethnicity.
- It is possible to travel through virtually the entire country by railroad system.
- Do not greet people with kisses and huges, unless this person is already familiar with the Brazilian habit of doing so. Usually the American extend the hand to greet.
- Be always on time, whether for dinner, business lunch, meetings, appointments or simply a get together. When reserving a table at a restaurant, it is expected that you arrive 15 minutes prior the reserved time and who invited for dinner should arrive first.
- It is always prudent to ask how a person would like to be called: by the first name or last name, proceeded by Miss, Mrs. or Mr.
Some examples to consider
Gestures and hand signs can put you in embarrassing situations because hand signs have different meanings in different countries.
A circle made by joining the index finger and the thumb has an obscene meaning for Brazilians but for Americans it means OK, for the Japanese it means money, it has no meaning for the French and for the Germans it is the same of calling someone an idiot.
In Thailand and Bulgaria the meaning of nodding and shaking the head is the opposite: nod to say no and shake your head to say yes. In Australia, the V of victory made with ones hand or the gesture of thumbs-up mean you are telling someone to go to a very unpleasant place (equivalent to giving someone the finger). In the Italian region of Sardinia, in Turkey and Greece, the gesture to ask for a ride becomes a sexual invitation. In the Arabian countries it is rude to sit down and show the sole of your shoes, once it is considered the dirtiest part.