In another major victory for President Donald Trump (that the media will be only too happy to ignore), the United States has been placed at the top of the World Economic Forum’s global rankings for the first time since 2008, when the financial crisis ripped the bottom out of the domestic economy. According to the WEF analysis, the U.S. comes the closest of any country in the world to the “ideal state” with a total competitiveness score of 85.6. Rounding out the top five countries are Singapore, Germany, Switzerland, and Japan.
The new report factored in dramatic changes in the global economy, including the addition of artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, and idea generation into the pot. The WEF also adopted a new methodology that took a total of 98 indicators into consideration when ranking the 140 countries subjected to the study. Each of these indicators were organized into one of 12 pillars which demonstrate how close a given country is to the “ideal”: Institutions, product market, infrastructure, the adoption of information and communications technology, macroeconomic stability, health, skills, labor market, market size, financial system, business dynamism, and innovation capability.
Klaus Schwab, the executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, said that the organization needed new criteria to measure how well countries were adapting to the changes in the global economy.
“Embracing the Fourth Industrial Revolution has become a defining factor for competitiveness,” said Schwab. “With this report, the World Economic Forum proposes an approach to assess how well countries are performing against this new criterion. I foresee a new global divide between countries who understand innovative transformations and those that don’t. Only those economies that recognize the importance of the Fourth Industrial Revolution will be able to expand opportunities for their people.”
Despite scoring well enough to land the top spot overall, the U.S. did not dominate in every category. Business dynamism, the labor market, and the financial system pillars were among the strengths noted by the WEF study, but declining security, corruption, and a weakening social fabric worked against our nation’s total score.
Of course, all of this has to be taken with a grain of salt. The World Economic Forum is not without its own inherent biases, which run towards low-skilled labor, against protectionism of any kind, and in favor of the kind of globalist practices that, in some ways, contributed to the U.S.’s economic malaise of the last decade. It is perhaps an even greater signal of the strength of the Trump economy that the WEF’s analysts were forced to look past practices they loathe (tariffs, a lack of government-run healthcare) to declare the U.S. the top country in the world.
But if we should fall in the rankings next year or the year after that, with no specific strain to our actual economy, that will be the reason why.