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What Type of Economy Does the U.S. Have?

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Last editedJul 20212 min read

A nation’s economy is measured by its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). According to some, the U.S. is no longer the largest economy in the world, having been replaced by China on the global economic stage. Such estimations are based on an adjusted measure of Gross Domestic Product, or real GDP. However, when measured by nominal GDP, which differs from real GDP in that it includes inflation, the United States economy still tops the list.

What types of economic systems are there?

There are four main types of economic systems: traditional, command, market, and mixed.

The traditional economy is the oldest type of economic system. It relies heavily on people and is considered highly sustainable; the system is based on goods, services, and work and is common in nations where farming and other traditional occupations predominate. Resources are typically scarce, as is waste, due to its small production levels.

In command economic systems, the government (or another centralized, dominant authority) controls most of the economic structure. This type of system is common in communist nations. Resources are plentiful and controlled by the government; agriculture is the realm of the people. Command systems react slowly to change, and thus, are vulnerable to economic crises.

Mainly a theoretical model, the market economy is considered a free market system with little government control. Economic regulation comes from the people and the influence of supply and demand. Growth is highest in a market economy, though it leads to an inequitable distribution of resources as it allows for private entities to accumulate a great deal of economic power.

What type of economy does the U.S. have?

Created by the United States Constitution, the U.S. has a mixed economy, meaning that it combines elements of the command and market economic models. In terms of consumer goods and business services, the United States economy operates as a free market. In terms of defense (and with regard to certain aspects of retirement benefits and medical care), it operates as a command economy. The government regulates these activities and, along with the Constitution, protects the mixed economic structure of the nation. Driven by supply and demand, labor and natural resources are forms of supply, and personal consumption is an example of demand.

How strong is the U.S. economy today?

So, how is the U.S. economy doing? The U.S. economy has been recovering from the Great Recession since 2009. The longest period of U.S. economic expansion, which lasted more than a decade, was ended by the onslaught of the COVID-19.

Considering this, you may be wondering, “Is the U.S. economy in a recession now?”

The pandemic delivered a blow to the global economy causing the GDP of every nation in the world to contract in 2020, with the exception of China. The U.S. economy dipped 3.5 percent, and indeed, the coronavirus triggered a recession and the worst economic freeze since the end of World War II.

Economists have predicted that the U.S. economy will recover in 2021, however, many are concerned that the country could succumb to another recession in the absence of continued government financial support. The strength of the first quarter may provide a silver lining, though, if the 6.6 percent increase in GDP is indicative of the rest of the year.

For businesses of all sizes, from global titans to lean startups, this is definitely a time where a growth mindset comes in handy, as well as research into recession-proof markets, such as e-commerce.

What impact does the U.S. economy have globally?

The U.S. economy has a strong impact on the global economy and vice versa. Some of the factors that come into play include:

  • The synchronicity of U.S. and global business cycles

  • Global spillovers from U.S. growth and policy shocks

  • U.S. trade and financial connections with nations around the world

To create a sustainable business amidst the fluctuations of the U.S. and global economies, plan ahead.

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