America Becomes World's Most Competitive Economy

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has been gauging national competitiveness for nearly four decades via its Global Competitiveness Report. The United States has lagged behind Singapore, and sometimes the economies of other small nations, for years. In the 2018 report, it moved into first place among the 140 countries measured.

Each nation is rated on a scale of 1 to 100. According to the WEF, the rank “indicates how close an economy is to the ideal state or ‘frontier’ of competitiveness.” The complete methodology runs well over 100 pages and includes several series of complex mathematical formulas. These, in turn, come from a number of central bank officials, academicians and think-tank experts.

The United States scored 85.6, followed by Singapore at 83.5, Germany at 82.8, Switzerland at 82.6 and Japan at 82.5. Most of the nations at the bottom of the list are in sub-Saharan Africa. Chad was in the 140th spot with a 35.5 score. Angola had a score of 37.1, which put it in 137th place. Burundi was in 136th place with a score of 37.5. Two nations outside the region were very near the bottom. Haiti ranked 138th with a score of 36.5. Yemen, which stretches along the southern border of Saudi Arabia, ranked 139th with a score of 36.4.

In describing the reason for the report, Saadia Zahidi, member of the Managing Board and head of the Centre for the New Economy and Society, said:

 Competitiveness is neither a competition nor a zero-sum game—all countries can become more prosperous. With opportunities for economic leapfrogging, diffusion of innovative ideas across borders and new forms of value creation, the Fourth Industrial Revolution can level the playing field for all economies. But technology is not a silver bullet on its own. Countries must invest in people and institutions to deliver on the promise of technology.

The methods for measurement used by the WEF are immensely complex. The yardstick is made up of 98 “indicators” that are grouped into these 12 “pillars”: Institutions, Infrastructure; Technological readiness; Macroeconomic context; Health; Education and skills; Product market; Labor market; Financial system; Market size; Business dynamism; and Innovation.

Top and bottom 10 from the World Economic Forum, Global Competitiveness Report 2018:

 1 United States 85.6
 2 Singapore 83.5
 3 Germany 82.8
 4 Switzerland 82.6
 5 Japan 82.5
 6 Netherlands 82.4
 7 Hong Kong SAR 82.3
 8 United Kingdom 82.0
 9 Sweden 81.7
10 Denmark 80.6
131 Mauritania 40.8
132 Liberia 40.5
133 Mozambique 39.8
134 Sierra Leone 38.8
135 Congo, Democratic Rep. 38.2
136 Burundi 37.5
137 Angola 37.1
138 Haiti 36.5
139 Yemen 36.4
140 Chad 35.5