Happy Fourth of July, America! We’ve got some celebrating to do. Don’t listen to the naysayers who wring their hands over the U.S. debt ceiling or scold drought-ridden Texans that they shouldn’t be lighting firecrackers this year.
Let's listen instead to Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central's The Colbert Report: "If our Founding Fathers wanted us to care about the rest of the world, they wouldn't have declared their independence from it."
So it's official—America is still the best darn country in the world! In that spirit, here’s AdvisorOne's top 10 list of reasons why the USA is No. 1 on Independence Day.
#1: We Rule the Worldwide Stock and Bond Markets
A year after the financial crisis of 2008—at the height of the recession—U.S. equities nevertheless accounted for the greatest portion of the world’s stock, at $14.28 trillion, just under one-third of the global stock market value, according to the Asset Allocation Advisor.
U.S. bonds accounted for 38% of all global bonds, making the United States the largest player in the market. As of 2009, total debt outstanding in the worldwide bond market was an estimated $82.2 trillion, and of that, U.S. debt outstanding came to $34.3 trillion, says the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA).
In stocks, the U.S. market may have lost a bit of its luster when the New York Stock Exchange and Euronext merged in 2007. Still, NYSE Euronext, NYSE Amex, NYSE Alternext and NYSE Arca today represent a third of the world's equities trading, the most liquid of any global exchange group. As of April 30, NYSE Euronext leads the U.S. market for initial public offerings and new listings in total capital raised and number of transactions for 2011, with $18.52 billion in IPO proceeds raised and 33 IPOS.
#2: The Almighty Dollar Is Just That
OK, so Moody’s and Standard & Poor's have both warned that the United States could lose its triple-A debt rating if our deficits aren't cut. But that hasn’t stopped the U.S. dollar from retaining its position as the world’s top currency.
Worldwide, the dollar is involved in 90% of all transactions, and it is the world’s foremost reserve currency.
“The dollar remains pre-eminent as the world's primary currency, and no other paper currency has the market presence to take over for the greenback. Neither do gold or silver,” said the Los Angeles Timesin April.
No. 2: Bill Gates, $56 billion, Microsoft mogul and now co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
No. 3: Warren Buffett (left) $50 billion, Berkshire Hathaway CEO and everybody’s favorite stock-picking oracle.
No. 5: Larry Ellison, $39.5 billion, college-dropout CEO of another kind of Oracle—the highly successful computer software company.
Who got the No. 1 spot? Sadly, it did not go to the United States. It went instead to our southern neighbor, Mexico, whence Telmex Chairman Carlos Slim Helú originates. His net worth totals $74 billion in 2011. The No. 4 spot goes to a Frenchman, Bernard Arnault, whose chairmanship of Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy has helped earn him a fortune of $41 billion.
#4: We’re Home to the World’s Largest Companies
Welcome to Wal-Mart Stores, the world’s largest employer, counting 2.1 million workers as of 2009 (some of them numbering among the 1.6 million women whose sex-discrimination lawsuit was recently thrown out of Supreme Court).
In 2010, CNNMoney counted the Bentonville, Ark.-headquartered mega-corporation as the world’s largest company overall, with profits of $14 billion and revenues of $408 billion.
In 2011, The Financial Times reported in its FT Global 500 that Exxon Mobil resumed its position as the world’s most valuable company and PetroChina is No. 2. This followed the shocking results in 2010 that favored China over the United States, when for the first time, a Chinese company, PetroChina, had overtaken Exxon Mobil as the world’s most valuable company.
#5: Who Is the World’s Military Leader? That Would Be U.S.
We spend more money on the military—by far—than any other country in the world, according to the CIA World Factbook. The U.S. military budget is $515 billion compared to a paltry $100 billion for China and $53 billion for the United Kingdom, the latest statistics show.
For overall military might, www.globalfirepower.com ranks the United States first, followed by China, Russia, India and the U.K.