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The largest companies

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For decades, U.S. companies dominated the world. Now, with globalization and the rise of new economic powers, that leadership may be in doubt. What do the latest numbers show? N.C. State University economist Mike Walden responds.

“If you look at the world’s 50 largest companies, we see that the U.S. share of those 50 has, indeed, fallen over time on trend. But — very interesting — if you look at the U.S. share of the top companies — and here, top is defined as the top 10 – actually, we have gained in recent years.

“And in fact even perhaps even more interestingly, the top five companies of the world measured in terms of their market valuation as what they’re worth in dollar terms are actually now headquartered here in the U.S., and they are Apple, Exxon Mobile, Google, Berkshire Hathaway and Microsoft.

“Now, several of these — obviously they’re tech companies — and they indicate the rise of the tech industry and the fact that the U.S. has been a leader there. But in general I think people would be surprised to know that investors around the world still like U.S. companies.

“U.S. companies have a reputation for being flexible. They have a reputation for really focusing on being efficient, which means that translates into higher values and being able to adapt. If there’s one word I think to describe the U.S. economy, it is adaptable.”

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