<snippet>1. Just five years ago, according to data from Forbes, nearly a third of the world’s 2000 largest publicly traded companies were based in the U.S. Since then, that total has fallen by 36 percent.
2. Some (left-of-center) scholars have called the growth of multinational firms over the 20th century the new face of modern imperialism. And it’s true that in one sense, American businesses have lived up to this billing by earning a growing share of their profits from overseas – 28 percent last year, versus just 4 percent in 1948. But at the same time, globally, American businesses’ earning power has declined dramatically this decade compared with those from other nations.
3. To get a further sense of where the United States could be headed, it can also be instructive to look back at the economic fates of past world powers. This next chart shows the GDP of an empire’s home country over time. (Economic data prior to World War II is hard to come by, so the dashed lines in the chart below represent years when no data is available.)