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How's the EU economy doing?

Things are going well in Europe. The difference in GDP per capita (PPP) between rich and poor EU countries is shrinking. The average EU GDP per capita (41k) is somewhere around South Korea (39k) and Japan (39k).

The high-GDP EU countries are grouped around 45-50,000 PPP dollars per capita, with a few outliers. Starting from the top, Luxembourg (102k) and Ireland (69k) are a bit special: both are tax havens, which inflates their figures significantly by routing a lot of money through the economy with very little sticking around. Up next is Netherlands (51k), also a bit tax havenish. Then we get to the rest of the list, composed of Sweden (50k), Austria (48k), Germany (48k) and Denmark (47k). Belgium (45k) rounds up the list.

The medium-GDP EU countries are in the 30-45,000 PPP dollar range, and compose the majority of the EU. First, we've (still) got UK (43k), nearly tied with neighboring France (42k) and far-flung Finland (42k). Malta (38k), Spain (36k) and Italy (36k) form another closely knit group. Rounding up the 30k+ group, we've got Cyprus (34k), Czech Republic (33k), Slovenia (32k), Slovakia (31k), Lithuania (30k) and Estonia (30k).

We can (and probably have to in a few years) extend the middle-income group with some fast-growing countries falling just short of the 30k divider: Portugal (29k), Poland (28k), Hungary (27k), Greece (27k) and Latvia (26k).

The sub-25k category is composed of new member states. Led by newcomer Croatia (22k), fast-growing Romania (22k) and Bulgaria (20k) finish the list.

To understand this number mess a bit better, let's do a historical comparison. Bulgaria is now at a similar GDP per capita level as the UK was in 1994 (or Sweden in 1991). Poland and Greece are like the UK was in 2001. Czech Republic is like the UK was in 2005. Italy and Spain are like the UK was in 2010. Today's Germany is like the UK might be in 2020. The Netherlands is like the UK in 2026. The EU as a whole is at a similar GDP per capita level as the US was in 2004.

Ten years ago in 2006, the difference in GDP per capita between the Netherlands and Bulgaria was 3.2x. Now the difference has come down to 2.55x, as Bulgaria's economy has caught up with the rest of the Union.

Compared to the US, the EU economy is oscillating at the usual 68-70% range per capita. The exceptional performance of the US economy is weird as usual, it's hanging out with petrostates, tax havens and finance-driven city-states, while having a large population. How does that happen? Is it real? How to replicate it? Who knows.
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Built art installations, web sites, graphics libraries, web browsers, mobile apps, desktop apps, media player themes, many nutty prototypes, much bad code, much bad art.

Have freelanced for Verizon, Google, Mozilla, Warner Bros, Sony Pictures, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Valve Software, TDK Electronics.

Ex-Chrome Developer Relations.