But I also like the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report and the Institute of Management Development’s World Competitiveness Rankings, both of which basically measure the degree to which a nation is hospitable to business activity (which is correlated with economic liberty).
The United States dominated the IMD rankings until 2010, and America managed to reclaim the top spot for 2017. But according to new numbers from IMD’s World Competitiveness Center, Singapore and Hong Kong are now at the top.
I’m also not surprised to see Switzerland ranked highly.
And it’s worth noting that the Netherlands, Ireland, and Denmark are top-10 nations, similar to their scores in the Human Freedom Index.
Here’s some additional information from the press release.
“Singapore has ranked as the world’s most competitive economy for the first time since 2010, according to the IMD World Competitiveness Rankings, as the United States slipped from the top spot … Singapore’s rise to the top was driven by its advanced technological infrastructure, the availability of skilled labor, favorable immigration laws, and efficient ways to set up new businesses. Hong Kong SAR held on to second place, helped by a benign tax and business policy environment and access to business finance. … The IMD World Competitiveness Rankings, established in 1989, incorporate 235 indicators from each of the 63 ranked economies. The ranking takes into account a wide range of ‘hard’ statistics such as unemployment, GDP and government spending on health and education, as well as ‘soft’ data from an Executive Opinion Survey covering topics such as social cohesion, globalization and corruption. This information feeds into four categories – economic performance, infrastructure, government efficiency and business efficiency – to give a final score for each country. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for competitiveness, but the best performing countries tend to score well across all four categories. Switzerland climbed to fourth place from fifth, helped by economic growth, the stability of the Swiss franc and high-quality infrastructure. … The United Arab Emirates – ranked 15th as recently as 2016 – entered the top five for the first time. … Venezuela remains anchored to the bottom of the ranking, hit by inflation, poor access to credit and a weak economy. The South American economy ranks the lowest for three out of four of the main criteria groups – economic performance, government efficiency and infrastructure.”
There are two specific items from the report I want to highlight.
First, notwithstanding the bleating from Trump and others about a supposed crisis of inadequate spending, notice that the United States is in first place for that category.
Also, notice that the jurisdictions with high scores for government efficiency are all places with (by modern standards) small government.
This is very similar to the “public sector efficiency” scores from the European Central Bank.
Daniel J. Mitchell is a top expert on tax reform and supply-side tax policy and is Chairman of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity. Mitchell is a strong advocate of a flat tax and international tax competition.