I’ve seen a lot of GDP charts, and a lot of bubble graphs, but vanishingly few are as good as this one, designed by Joe Swainson. It crams voluminous narrative and data into a single, simple chart.
It’s pretty intuitive: Each line represents a different country; the size of the bubbles represents the size of their GDP in a given year. As you read the graph from left to right, you’ll see that the lines rise and fall, to reflect where that country will rank, by GDP. (If you can’t read the type; check out the full-size here.)
As you can see, Brazil, Russia, India, and China (the BRIC countries, in economics speak) will assume a central role on the world stage by 2050. But the U.S. has an economy so large that it will actually remain somewhat stable–albeit no longer in a position of leadership. That is, barring any economic meltdowns or wars. Cross your fingers!