The future prosperity and security of the United States is inextricably tied to the global economy. The growing number of multinational corporations and their complex network of foreign? investments, production and marketing across international borders will continue to gain power and influence with far reaching consequences. International financial institutions such as the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are significant forces shaping the global economic playing field that individual nation states must use. Regional trade associations and agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement and the European Union all influence global economic conditions and limit the sovereign decision rights of involved governments. The global economy is not inclusive and many underdeveloped, poor and marginalized nations are excluded from participation. The United States and other nations benefiting from the global economy face a future of asymmetric security threats and increased humanitarian crises in these left-behind' nations. There will be frustration, poverty, unrest and disillusionment in these marginalized nations. The global economy has the potential to spawn expanded global terrorism and to widen the gap between the haves and have-nots. The terrorist strikes of 11 September 2001 against the United States' symbol of economic strength and power, the World Trade Center, and against the symbol of our military might, the Pentagon, are profound proof that disenfranchised extremist groups will target the United States' hegemonic leadership of the global economy. This paper assumes that the global economy will continue to exponentially expand among the industrialized and technologically advanced nations of the world. It examines the global economy's characteristics and main players, and explores its benefits, drawbacks, opportunities, challenges and potential future sources of conflict.