World's top 5 economies: Most Americans already think China is No. 1

On Feb. 14, China was recognized as the world's second-largest economy after the United States. Americans are already convinced that the US has fallen behind China.

4. Germany, $3.3 trillion

The engine of Europe, Germany expanded its economy to $3.3 trillion in 2010, according to the International Monetary Fund. Its national statistics office reported growth of 3.6 percent over the year, the fastest rate since reunification in 1990, according to the BBC. The world's second-largest exporter after China boosted exports by 14.3 percent thanks in part to growing domestic demand.

"Germans have looked around lately to find they have the preeminent world-class export economy in Europe. No one else comes close," the Monitor's Europe bureau chief Robert Marquand reported in the January cover story "Germany – the new mini-superpower."

Germany has built its economy around demand from rapidly growing developing nations. Forty percent of Germany's exports now go to the so-called BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and China). "The Germans took seriously the idea that global competition will come from the BRICs, and they set about engineering a response," a Western diplomat recently told the Monitor. "They started to make things; that's what they do."

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