The World Economic Forum takes Geneva over Washington in its latest global competitiveness report. In other words, Switzerland tops the United States in the ranking of world economies. It is the first time out of the No. 1 spot for the U.S. since the rankings were revised in 2004.
Why the downgrade? The report cites banking system troubles, concerns about the "government’s ability to maintain distance from the private sector" and doubts about firms’ auditing and reporting standards.
The Swiss, who also dipped into recession and had to bail out their largest bank (UBS), were lauded for "capacity to innovate, sophisticated business culture, effective public services, excellent infrastructure and well-functioning goods markets."
In the banking category, Canada led the way. The U.S. was 108th (behind Tanzania) and the British 126th.
Public data and an executive opinion survey are used to compile the rankings. Behind the Swiss and the Americans are: Singapore, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan, Canada and the Netherlands.
At the bottom were African countries Zimbabwe and Burundi. For Zimbabwe, the report cited "corruption, basic government inefficiency and the complete absence of property rights."