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United States

The United States has the largest economy in the world, with a 2008 estimated GDP by purchasing power parity of $14.6 trillion.

Expanded Definition

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of ..." (a) money (b) happiness (c) youth?

OK, OK. You hopefully know the answer is "happiness." But some might logically have chosen "money." (A negative savings rate doesn't do much to dispel that image.)

And the U.S. is an economic powerhouse, no doubt. With a population of more than 300 milion people, it is the third-largest country by population, and by geographic size. As of 2007, its per-capita gross domestic product (GDP) was estimated at $43,444 under purchasing power parity and $43,594 nominally, ranking the U.S. 4th and 9th in the world, respectively.

U.S. budget expenditures in 2008 were around $3 trillion.

The U.S. Department of Commerce is a good place to start finding information on the United States' budget and economy.

The country imports most of the oil it uses, which has given rise to a waxing and waning -- and not terribly raucous -- push for alternative sources of energy such as solar, wind, and ethanol, so that the U.S. is not at the mercy of the politically unstable Middle East. Canada is the No. 1 supplier of petroleum to the U.S., but concerns about reliance on foreign supplies of oil are certainly legitimate.

The U.S. is the world's largest consumer of cocaine and Colombian heroin, according to the CIA World Factbook, which is just interesting and an argument could be made that that drug use keeps illicit economies alive elsewhere.

The United States is a free-market economy. However, to counter collapses in the real estate and financial markets in 2008, the government provided financial assistance that has resulted in what some deem de facto nationalization of several companies, including banks that the government has taken a position in.

With the decilne of the value of the dollar relative to other currencies, and even before the weakienng of economies around the globe, there was debate on whether it was still accurate to say that when America sneezes, the world catches cold.

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