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Thursday, January 16, 2014

Economic Freedom

Our chapter on economic policy looks at international ratings of economic and political freedom.

In September, Canada's Fraser Institute reported:
Hong Kong again topped the rankings of 151 countries and territories, followed by Singapore, New Zealand, and Switzerland in the Fraser Institute’s annual Economic Freedom of the World report.

The United States, once considered a bastion of economic freedom, now ranks 17th in the world.

“Unfortunately for the United States, we’ve seen overspending, weakening rule of law, and regulatory overkill on the part of the U.S. government, causing its economic freedom score to plummet in recent years. This is a stark contrast from 2000, when the U.S. was considered one of the most economically free nations and ranked second globally,” said Fred McMahon, Dr. Michael A. Walker Research Chair in Economic Freedom with the Fraser Institute.

Venezuela has the lowest level of economic freedom worldwide, with Myanmar, Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, and Chad rounding out the bottom five countries. Some nations, like North Korea and Cuba, could not be ranked because of a lack of data.
The conservative Heritage Foundation recently reached a similar conclusion:
In a welcome turnaround, economic freedom is “once again on the rise,” according to the editors of the 20th annual Index of Economic Freedom, released today by The Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. “Much of the momentum lost during the past five years has been regained.”
The world average score of 60.3—seven-tenths of a point above the 2013 average—is the highest average in the two-decade history of the Index, the editors note. Forty-three countries, including Singapore andSweden, achieved their highest scores yet in the 2014 Index. Among the 178 countries ranked, scores improved for 114 countries and declined for 59. Four recorded no score change.
But the news was not all positive. The United States fell out of the top 10, its score declining enough to leave it in the 12th slot overall. The 2014 Index finds notable declines for the U.S. in fiscal freedom, business freedom and property rights, placing it again behind its neighbor to the north, Canada.