China appears to be hitting its stride as an economic power, while the United States and European Union seem to be losing the independent spirit that once made them great, according to speakers at the Agricultural Economic Symposium in Destin, Fla., recently.

Market analyst Richard Brock, president of Brock Associates, said that China is one of the few countries in the world showing significant economic growth. The willingness of the Chinese people to achieve financial success is showing up as an 8 percent annual growth rate in the country’s gross domestic product.

Meanwhile many European countries seem on the verge of economic collapse, as governments ponder how they can continue to pay out entitlement programs for growing numbers of people. Brock says the United States is about 10 years away from experiencing the same problem.

In the United States, much of the looming problem has to do with the large number of Baby Boomers facing retirement, along with advances in medical technology that have resulted in people living longer, Brock says.

“In 20 years, the number of people aged 72 will double from what it is today. You can see why there is concern. People are living longer. The entitlement problems, like Medicare and Social Security are going to be a huge problem.”

“We have a government spending crisis,” said Randall Hertz with Hertz Farm Management. “Today, 60 percent of Americans are taking more from the government than they’re putting back in.”

 Brock noted that from 1950 to 2008, what the government received through taxation exceeded government outlays (spending) by an average of 10.53 percent. Estimates of the last two years indicate that in 2009, outlays exceeded receipts by 67.1 percent, while in 2010 outlays exceeded receipts by 71.9 percent.

Despite this, some parts of the U.S. economy are still hanging in there, according to Brock. U.S. agriculture continues to enjoy historic commodity prices, which is a good thing as long as prices remain high.