TAIPEI, Taiwan (TheStreet) -- Sometime between Nov. 2 and 2028, China's economy, now No. 2 in the world, will surpass that of the longtime gold medal holder: the United States. That date will add shine to China's self-image and set off warnings in Washington of a world dominated by an only semi-trustworthy Communist nation.
When China ($9.28 trillion gross domestic product in 2013) will overtake the U.S. ($16.8 trillion GDP) depends on whose forecast you believe.
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But so what? No matter when the title changes hands, old-school American policymakers will fuss about how China lacks responsibility toward other countries to lead the global economy. China will privately gloat, publicly feign humility and continue to focus on itself.
The real answer to 'so what' -- a question lost in the statistical debate about GDP growth rates -- is that a lot of money is on the move in China, and some of it could be yours.
An early overtaking of the U.S. economy, assuming the U.S. doesn't sink into prolonged recession, would mean that investment in factories and new infrastructure in China will continue to fuel growth.
A later lapping of the U.S. economy would signal that consumption and the expansion of non-factory private business in China are driving growth, per the Chinese leadership's goals announced last November. Both factors add to the GDP, but not at the speed offered by state-sponsored investment in infrastructure or by giant new factory cities built by offshore capital.