Tuesday, September 8, 2009

New rankings on country competitiveness: Singapore is number 3!

The World Economic Forum released its Global Competitiveness Report for 133 countries. The top headline: US is out, Switzerland is in (number 1, that is); Singapore grabbed third place, pushing out Denmark.

The chart illustrates the change in rankings across the top 30 competitive economies in 2009-2010. Countries below the dotted line increased their ranking from last year, and countries above decreased their ranking. As you can see, the majority of (developed) economies dropped in their competitiveness rankings. The world banking crisis and financial institution regulation (whose epicenter was the US) were clearly major factors.

Here are some bullet points from the report (in the highlights report) on the top three competitive countries (the bottom are also included):
Switzerland’s economy continues to be characterized by an excellent capacity for innovation and a very sophisticated business culture, ranked 3rd for its business sophistication and 2nd for its innovation capacity. The country is characterized by high spending on R&D.

The United States falls one place and is ranked 2nd this year. The country continues to be endowed with many structural features that make its economy extremely productive and that place it on a strong footing to ride out business cycle shifts and economic shocks. However, a number of escalating weaknesses have taken their toll on the US ranking this year…. More generally, given that the financial crisis originated in large part in the United States, it is hardly surprising that there has been a weakening of the assessment of its financial market sophistication, dropping from 9th last year to 20th overall this year in that pillar.

Singapore moves up two ranks to 3rd place, remaining the highest-ranked country from Asia. The country’s institutions continue to be ranked as the best the world; at a time when confidence in governments in many countries has diminished, they are assessed even more strongly than in past years. Singapore places 1st for the efficiency of its goods and labor markets and 2nd for its financial market sophistication, ensuring the proper allocation of these factors to their best use. Singapore also has world-class infrastructure (ranked 4th), leading the world in the quality of its roads, ports, and air transport facilities. In addition, the country’s competitiveness is propped up by a strong focus on education, providing highly skilled individuals for the workforce. In order to strengthen its competitiveness further, Singapore could encourage even stronger adoption of the latest technologies—especially broadband Internet—as well as the innovative capacity of its companies.
And here is what co-author Xavier Sala-i-Martin (venerable macroeconomist at Columbia) says about the rankings.

Rebecca Wilder


  1. The US financial market is very sophisticated, all right. It is just full of illegalities that aren't being caught. Now we get to pay the price for being blind. By the way, poor Luxembourg.

  2. I do not ave the data to support it, but I have a feeling that such international ranking as this tend to be cyclical with the US suffering in recessions and improving in expansions.

    Do you know of any database that would support or disprove this thesis?