you said don't like the dollar base because the German (all Euro-nations) economy would have grown in the last term on this base (and the German economy hasn't really grown)
That is why we adjust for purchasing parity. You've outlined that point exactly with the fact that the appreciation of the Euro against the US-Dollar would have made it appear that the single currency zone has grown and we all know too well (unfortunately) that it hasn't. I am not sure how much macro economics you've done, so if i oversimplfy things please do not take offence. Although the yaun has a fixed exchange rate, like all countries, the real exchange rate still varies.... that is, the purchasing power of say, 1 dollar. This comes largely due to inflation. Its almost impossible to fix both exchange rates and inflation.
The US dollar is used, as this is the standard international form used by the world bank, the united nations, the IMF etc. Its got nothing to do with appeasing american interests, but one can run into the same problems with picking any major currency. Lets say we picked the Euro instead. We'd need to make ajustments for the other currencies to due to the temporary fluctuations. Especially in the case of say, South Africa with the huge appreciation of the rand in the last year. South Africa certainly hasnt' seen that kind of growth, and with the government they've got their not likely too either. Think of it like Consumer price index. You take a basket of goods, and take the weighted average price inorder to gain some idea of inflation. Same concept. This is the idea behind the "big mac" index. The basic idea is that you can gauge if a currency is under or over valued by comparing the price of a big mac in each country... the idea being that it should work out to be "around" (not exactly due to factor imput differences) the same price in each country. Those countries where it is really cheap will expence an export boom, which in turn will lead to huge flows of capital into their country. If you fix the exchange(subject to factors like political stability etc), inflation will take care of those price differences, and this is what's happening in china although to the what extent is really the big question everybody wants to know. The extent is actually quite extreme. The woman i know who used to work as a Doctor there was only paid about $180 a week. But that probably gave her a similar living standard to somebody say earning $60 000 or say 75 000 euros. So there is a BIG adjustment factor in the case of china. The main point being, there is still that same level of activity. And that, is what we are really interested in.
The german statics you mentioned above also prove this point. By your figures, the german and japanese living standars are higher than that of americans, but clearly they're not. Americans consume far far more. They drive more cars, larger ones, consume more supermarket food, live in larger houses, etc. So looking at it on a per capita basis without adjustment can be confusing.
200 million chinese at the moment are living in big cities, in modern appartments, with tv's computers dishwashers, airconditioners, etc. Basically, 200 million ppl are now out of poverty. It is there consumption that drives it up to the USD 5000 mark. Think of it. If say consumed at a level equivalent to say, 20 000 euros per year each, but the other 800 million consumed at a level equiv to say a mere 800, you'd get that kind of figure.
I have just had a look at the german stats website, and the GDP per capita figure is unadjusted and taken at 1995 exchange rates. That doesn't give us a very good indication of the level of activity. The site states also that most of those figures come also from the world bank etc... they just haven't been adjusted yet, and although they are older than thus less accurate, they are still based on the same sampling information. They haven't been processed. I have a german passport and my family are largely germans so i don't want to see good old DE
pushed off its pirch, but i think realistically, it's already happened.
The other major influencing factor is do we follow Kanesian economics, or Neo-classical. Most of the world says Neo-Classical now... but european governments seem to prefer kanes?