In the past, the United States was the engine of prosperity and economic stability worldwide. Much of the global benefits came from offshoring activities. Things like Chinese manufacturing, Taiwanese electronics, Indian software development, and Costa Rican business services provided the initial fuel and capital for the current global boom.

All those first-generation activities had one thing in common: They were all based on goods and services destined for use in the United States. The old joke about the global economy was "When the United States sneezes, the rest of the world catches cold." And sure enough, if the U.S. faced a recession, it knocked much of the rest of the world for a complete loop.

Much of the reason why offshoring has been so successful boils down to simple economics. The companies who've moved production overseas have been able to attract high-quality employees for a fraction of the price of hiring Americans. While these wages seem low by American standards, they tend to be good for that specific country.

The next boom
As a result of paying relatively decent wages for the cost of living, a new phenomenon is arising in many formerly impoverished countries: a middle class. While that may not sound like a big deal to the average American, it is a huge deal for the rest of the world.

Taken as a whole, a solid middle class absolutely dwarfs the spending power of anyone else. While the ultra-rich may have a whole bunch of money, there are only so many of them around. To have a strong local economy, instead of simply an export-driven one, a country needs a solid middle class.

Make money globally
Because of this phenomenon, companies are lining up to serve -- and profit from -- that emerging global middle class. Unfortunately, prospering overseas takes a bit more work than simply opening a foreign office and setting up shop. Some unique concerns multinational companies face are:

  • Currency fluctuations.
  • Workplace culture clashes.
  • Unfamiliar consumer tastes.
  • Political risks to the business and its products.
  • International accounting differences.

In spite of the tremendous potential of our global economy, those international issues mean it's still more difficult to prosper overseas than it is at home. As such, the odds greatly favor those companies that are already successful on a global scale. After all, they've already mastered the intricacies of operating around the world, which gives them a tremendous leg up on the competition.

So, who's already winning? Perhaps you've heard of a few of these companies:


Home Country

Market Cap


United Kingdom

$225.92 billion

Nokia (NYSE:NOK)


$78.83 billion

Canon (NYSE:CAJ)


$71.17 billion

Credit Suisse (NYSE:CS)


$69.56 billion



$61.82 billion

Teva Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:TEVA)


$23.56 billion

Tata Motors (NYSE:TTM)


$7.17 billion

Every last one of them is

  • A multibillion-dollar business.
  • Headquartered outside the United States.
  • Already a global powerhouse in its industry.
  • Poised to go wherever consumer demand takes them.

Thanks to what they've already gone through to get where they are, they're in a great spot to profit from the tremendous growth that is just now starting in domestic markets worldwide.

Buy the world
With so many global powerhouses located outside of the United States, you're leaving money on the table if you only focus your investments at home.

That's why my colleague Bill Mann launched Motley Fool Global Gains. Every month, he scours the globe looking for the best of the best, wherever it may be headquartered. With so many newly affluent consumers and strong companies located elsewhere, can you really afford to ignore the rest of the world? Take the next 30 days to look around Global Gainsfor free while you think about your answer to that question.

At the time of publication, Fool contributor Chuck Saletta did not own shares of any of the companies mentioned in this article. The Fool has a disclosure policy.