Since China, Russia, India, and Brazil, the main emerging markets, account for only about $6 trillion of gross domestic product (GDP) – compared with $32 trillion in the US, Europe, and Japan – the developing countries' continued growth can only "cushion the US decline in a modest way," says Arthur Kroeber, head of the Dragonomics economic consultancy in Beijing.
America still holds the key to much of what happens in the world economy this year, economists say. Other countries are already ratcheting down their growth forecasts because of headwinds facing the world's largest consuming nation.
Falling stock prices a worry
At the same time, many financial analysts fear that the subprime mortgage crisis has yet to fully unravel, and that banks worldwide could see their balance sheets weakened, linking much of the global economy in a slowdown.
"The strength of emerging economies is in some ways self-sustaining," says Ed Yardeni, president of Yardeni Research in Great Neck, N.Y. But "a recession in US could ... interact with the credit crisis to become something really awful."