Thursday, January 06, 2005

How free are we? 

A good friend of mine who works in Hong Kong has brought this story to my attention:

"For the first time in the 11 years that the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal have been publishing the Index of Economic Freedom, the U.S. has dropped out of the top 10 freest economies in the world.

"In 1998, the U.S. was the fifth freest economy in the world, in 2001 it was sixth, and today it sits at 12th, tied with Switzerland. The U.S. drop in ranking is explained in part by a slightly lower score, but mostly by the good performance among its competitors. The lesson? Stand still on the highway to economic liberty and the world will soon start to pass you by.

"The 2005 Index, released today, ranks Hong Kong once again as the world's freest economy, followed by Singapore and Luxembourg. But it is Estonia at No. 4 that makes the point. This former Soviet satellite is a model reformer, setting the standard for how fast countries can move ahead in the realm of economic liberalization. Ireland, New Zealand, the U.K., Denmark, Iceland, Australia and Chile, all relatively recent converts to free markets, also outpace the U.S. this year."
You can find the complete ranking here.

How ironic, I replied to my friend, that the top four of the world's freest economies consists of an enclave within the last communist empire, a semi-authoritarian Asian city-state, a bank masquerading as a state one third the size of my home city, and a former Soviet republic. There are other ironies on that list: New Zealand, even after a few years of "Red" Helen Clark's rule is still doing slightly better than Australia, a legacy of the far-reaching reforms in the 1980s; and Chile is ahead of the United States, another achievement that no one will thank General Pinochet for.

Here's wishing for "up the chart with a bullet" in next year's ranking for Australia, the United States and Poland.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?