Sunday, October 03, 2010

Australia Fact Of The Week

The commodity price boom have now according to one measure made Australia surpass the United States in per capita income.

Seasonally adjusted quarterly GDP in Australia was A$340.32 billion, or A$ 1361.28 billion at an annual rate. With the Australian dollar trading at 97.25 U.S. cents, this means that Australia's GDP is US$ 1323.85 billion. With a current population of 22.48 million, that implies a GDP per capita of US$ 58,900.

By contrast, the United States had a seasonally adjusted nominal GDP of US$ 14,578.7 billion at an annual rate during the second quarter. With a population of
310.39 million, this imples a GDP per capita of US$ 47,000.

Per capita GDP at current exchange rates is thus more than 25% higher in Australia than the United States.

However, the United States is still ahead if we focus on purchasing power parities that the OECD uses. The OECD claims that the correct purchasing power parity is A$ 1.46/US$. If we accept that estimate, then the local purchasing power of per capita GDP is equivalent to US$ 41,500.

In principle, the purchasing power adjusted number is more relevant than the number based on current exchange rates in terms of determining where the standard of living is higher However, the problem is that the purchasing power estimates are very uncertain and often misleading, while by contrast you always know for sure what the current official/market exchange rate is.