The world may have seen a relatively serious recession last year, but nobody seems to have told the military. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, global military spending rose 5.9 per cent last year to hit a record $1.5 trillion (U.S.), despite global gross domestic product contracting 0.9 per cent.
Leading the way, as always, was the United States with $661 billion, or more than 40 per cent of the world total. The U.S. has hardly turned into a bunch of peaceniks under President Obama, with its spending increasing 7.7 per cent from 2008.
Coming in second place for the second year in a row was China, which shockingly spent about six times less than the U.S. As Reuters notes, though, China has kicked the crap out of everyone over the past decade with a total increase of 217 per cent over that time, compared to 76 per cent for the United States and 49 per cent worldwide.
Rounding out the top five were France, Britain and Russia.
So why the continued military spending, even in the face of a recession? Well, according to SIPRI, it’s not necessarily the result of preparing for war:
“Many countries were increasing public spending generally in 2009, as a way of boosting demand to combat the recession. Although military spending wasn’t usually a major part of the economic stimulus packages, it wasn’t cut either,” a SIPRI official told Reuters.
“The figures also demonstrate that for major or intermediate powers such as the USA, China, Russia, India and Brazil, military spending represents a long-term strategic choice which they are willing to make even in hard economic times.”
In other words, military spending is a time-honoured way of getting economies moving again. The Second World War did wonders for ending the Great Depression, so it’s little surprise that spending continued to ramp last year.
That means we should hopefully start to see some dividends from all that spending creep into the consumer world in the near future. Fingers still crossed for a toilet-cleaning robot…