Monday, October 13, 2008

On The Global Competitiveness Report 2008-2009

Last weekend I visited Toronto, Canada, and have just returned. All over their news is the World Economic Forum's list of most "sound" banks by country, where Canada comes first and the U.S. comes 40th. Have to agree, "soundness of banks" is a desirable list for Canada to lead! This hasn't been in the news much in America. (I wonder why!)

At the same time, it should be favorable news, because the United States came in first in global competitiveness overall. Switzerland is second overall and also in "soundness of banks" where it was first last year. Scandinavian countries ranked generally third. Canada is in tenth place (which is not emphasized in the news there!)

The Report at the World Economic Forum's website is interesting to read and has a fascinating series of lists at http://gcr.weforum.org/gcr/. They rank such wide-ranging areas as public and private institutions, health and education, financial institution sophistication, infrastructure, labor markets, goods and labor markets, innovation, just the range of society (mind-boggling in ambition).

The list of "best performing countries" is not just instructive, but amusing in achievement. Female participation in the labor force is highest in Mozambique this year and education expenditure is highest in Lesotho. Who knew?

It's thought-provoking as well. How can Denmark lead in three seemingly opposing areas: "diversion of public funds" "favoritism in decisions of government officials" AND "efficiency of legal framework" ?

It's amazing how fast these rankings can change. After all, these qualities would appear difficult to rank at all, let alone to change rankings yearly.

Can rankings be challenged, if they are taken seriously? Who has final say?

Some rankings are not completely desirable, such as the aforementioned "favoritism" by government officials or "brain drain" where the U.S. ranks highest.

Why not also rank length of time and difficulty to obtain visas and immigration papers?

If they tried to rank "most desirable country to live in" what qualities would they use?

Some quality of life issues are impossible to rank. Or maybe not, according to the World Economic Forum. But it doesn't mean they are correct. Current events change them all the time.

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