by William Malone
The World Economic Forum has released its Global Competitiveness Report for 2012 – 2013. The report ranks 147 countries on factors such as the strength of its institutions, infrastructure, health and education, financial markets, labor force and technological readiness. Pages 361 and 362 of the report show the U.S. position; for the 4th year in a row, the U.S. global competitiveness ranking has fallen. As recently as 2008, the U.S. was in first place. We now rank 7 out of 147 countries, behind Switzerland, Finland, Sweden, Netherlands and Germany (in that order.) In many of the 100-plus categories we are ranked in the 30th to 110th range.
What I find striking is comparing where we are today with the 1950s and 1960s. We have made great strides in equality for women and minorities, medicine and technology. But the U.S. has declined in many ways when we compare our economy to the world. In particular, our declining birth rate, government spending and regulation, and increases in crime are troubling for me.
Here are a few examples:
Indicator U.S.A. Rank
- Irregular payments and bribes 42
- Judicial independence 38
- Wastefulness of government spending 78
- Burden of government regulation 76
- Business costs of terrorism 134
- Business costs of crime and violence 85
- Organized crime 87
Catherine Rampell, economic reporter for the New York Times, excerpted from the report on September 6, 2012:
“The main reasons the United States has been slipping in the rankings appear related to distrust of and lack of confidence in government leadership. … The business community continues to be critical toward public and private institutions (41st). In particular, its trust in politicians is not strong (54th), perhaps not surprising in light of recent political disputes that threaten to push the country back into recession through automatic spending cuts. Business leaders also remain concerned about the government’s ability to maintain arm’s-length relationships with the private sector (59th), and consider that the government spends its resources relatively wastefully (76th). A lack of macroeconomic stability continues to be the country’s greatest area of weakness (111th, down from 90th last year).”
One thing that our government gets right is its investment in small business, including funding for women’s business centers across the U.S. I am proud to support programs of the Jacksonville Women’s Business Center that help our local businesses become and remain competitive in the new global economy.
William Malone specializes in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) including management buyouts, recapitalization and divestitures. He is a former banker and accounting practice owner, currently employed by Corporate Investment International of North Florida, Inc.