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During the May 9, 2010 edition of ABC's This Week, commentator George Will sought to add some context to one of the previous week's biggest stories -- the financial troubles in Greece, which prompted a bailout by its European neighbors that drew protests in Athens and shook financial markets across the world.
This Week host Jake Tapper introduced the topic by asking Will, "Why should the American people care about this?"
Will responded, "Because it's an early heart attack that ought to alert us to the fact that we could have a bigger heart attack. Greece is not too big to fail -- it has a GDP the size of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. It's too connected."
We wondered whether the Dallas-Fort Worth's gross domestic product -- the total value of goods and services produced -- could really be larger than that of an entire European nation.
According to the World Bank, Greece's gross domestic product in 2008 was $355 billion, ranking it 26th in the world.
Meanwhile, statistics calculated for the same year by the U.S. government's Bureau of Economic Analysis determined that the metro area consisting of Dallas, Fort Worth and Arlington, Texas, had a gross domestic product of $379 billion -- close enough in our view to make Will's statement correct.
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington actually ranked sixth among highest-GDP metro areas in the United States. Will could have just as easily pointed to five other metro areas that have bigger GDPs than Greece -- the ones based (in ascending order) in Washington, D.C., Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. New York City's economy, in fact, was about three and a half times the size of Greece's in 2008.
Just to be sure, we also compared statistics for GDP adjusted by "purchasing power parity" -- a tweak that eliminates distortions based on the relative value of currencies and the local costs of commodities. The adjusted GDP for Greece is $330 billion, which is smaller than Greece's unadjusted GDP, but only by a modest amount. (The adjusted GDP uses the U.S. as its yardstick for comparison, so its GDP number does not change.)
All in all, we rate Will's comment True.
George Will, comments during a roundtable discussion on ABC's This Week, May 9, 2010
World Bank, "Gross domestic product 2008" (table), accessed May 11, 2010
World Bank, "Gross domestic product 2008, PPP" (table), accessed May 11, 2010
Bureau of Economic Analysis, "News Release: GDP by Metropolitan Area, Accelerated 2008, New 2007, and Revised 2005-2006" (table attachment), Sept. 24, 2009
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