Apple CEO Tim Cook in 2015. (AP) Apple CEO Tim Cook in 2015. (AP)

Apple CEO Tim Cook in 2015. (AP)

Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson December 20, 2019

Congressman says his Silicon Valley district has higher GDP than Russia. Wrong

Just how insignificant is Russia in the global economy? Quite insignificant, argued Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Calif., in a Dec. 20 interview with MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson.

Khanna was discussing President Donald Trump and his warm relations with Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. Khanna told Jackson that he was mystified why Trump would pick Putin as a global partner.

"Here is what is so shocking," Khanna said. "Russia is not even a top-10 economy any more. I mean, my district in Silicon Valley has a higher GDP than Russia." (GDP refers to gross domestic product, or the sum of all economic activity in a given jurisdiction.)

Does a single California congressional district with 777,468 residents really outpace an entire nation of 144 million people

No, and Khanna acknowledged that after PolitiFact contacted him.

"I misspoke," Khanna said in an email. "What I meant to say is that two companies in my district — Apple and Google — have a higher market capitalization, $2 trillion, than Russia’s economy, and that California has a higher GDP."

Let’s look at the numbers.

Russia’s GDP in 2018, according to the World Bank, was $1.66 trillion. That ranks 11th in the world, behind the United States, China, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, India, Italy, Brazil, and Canada.

As for Khanna’s congressional district, California’s 17th, we were able to find a calculation by the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. Earlier this year, the think tank calculated GDP for every congressional district in 2018 and published summary numbers in the Wall Street Journal.

The article doesn’t include individual figures for every district, but Brookings researchers provided a figure for Khanna’s district: $103.9 billion. 

So Russia’s GDP is about 16 times bigger than the GDP for Khanna’s district.

The entire state of California, meanwhile, had a GDP just shy of $3 trillion in 2018, so California as a whole does outpace Russia in GDP.

What about Khanna’s point about market capitalization? 

Market capitalization is the total market value of all outstanding shares in a company. It’s a different measurement than GDP, which measures all economic activity within a locale. So the two aren’t directly comparable, but they can give a rough sense of scale.

Apple’s market capitalization was $1.25 trillion on Dec. 20. Google’s was $932.3 billion. So the total for the two companies is $2.2 trillion.

Our ruling

Khanna said the California congressional district he represents "has a higher GDP than Russia."

That’s wrong, as Khanna acknowledged. Russia’s GDP is about 16 times larger than that of California’s 17th congressional district.

When a speaker we’re checking acknowledges their error before publication, we note their comments but do not change our ruling, since many more people would have seen the interview with the incorrect information. So we rate the statement False.

Our Sources

Ro Khanna, interview on MSNBC, Dec. 20, 2019

Bureau of Economic Analysis, interactive data portal for regions, accessed Dec. 20, 2019

Wall Street Journal, "Democrats and Republicans Aren’t Just Divided. They Live in Different Worlds," Sept. 19, 2019

Census Bureau, My Congressional District tool, accessed Dec. 20, 2019

World Bank, GDP by country, accessed Dec. 20, 2019

World Bank, population by country, accessed Dec. 20, 2019

Yahoo! Finance, Google market capitalization, accessed Dec. 20, 2019

Yahoo! Finance, Apple market capitalization, accessed Dec. 20, 2019

Almanac of American Politics 2020

Email interview with Ro Khanna, Dec. 20, 2019

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Congressman says his Silicon Valley district has higher GDP than Russia. Wrong

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