Within a few years, China's PPP GDP - the best measure of the total value of goods and services produced by a country's economy - will surpass the U.S. This isn't even in doubt, yet it is something historic and not fully grasped by all political layers in the West. While China's nominal - or exchange rate GDP - remains much lower, it seems to be a truism that nominal GDP is a lagging indicator of economic power. Looking at the countries who move up quickly in PPP GDP rankings and it is a who's who of BRIC-ish types.
China is no longer - if it ever was - a country based on prison factory labor (as Chris Hedges insinuated in his recent Book TV interview). It is no longer a country based upon labor-intensive cheap manufacturing. If anything, the collapse of unions and a 10 year recession have reduced the U.S. to the cheap labor country of the OECD.