December 2008

A pat on the back for U.S. economy

Global market turmoil continues this winter, but many of the same countries, including the U.S., remain atop the World Economic Forum (WEF) ranking of global competitiveness.

The annual study assigns a score to a broad range of criteria affecting economies' business climates. It then categorizes them into 12 "pillars," including the size and efficiency of markets, innovation, infrastructure, business sophistication, and the quality of health and education.

"The stability of the financial markets is one of them, but it's not the most important," said Jennifer Blanke, a senior economist at the WEF who oversees the study told Business Week. "Those countries that have strengths in the other areas will bounce back quickly."

Of the record 134 countries surveyed this year, the majority at the top of the list remain European, while the U.S. continues to hold on to the No. 1 spot and Canada squeezes into the top 10.

As in previous years, Singapore and Japan are the only Asian countries included at the top of the list, though Hong Kong comes close at No. 11.

The results show a range of nonmarket attributes such as education, regulation, and infrastructure still account for the advantages some nations enjoy over others.

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Nicholas Sheble (nsheble@isa.org) writes and edits Automation Update.