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The continuing decline of the United Kingdom

The eagerly awaited (1) World Economic Forum 'Global Competitiveness Report 2009-2010' is out, and the inexorable decline in the UK's position continues - we are now 13th. The USA has dropped from the lead to second, while Switzerland takes the lead.

Here, in outline, is what the Davos mob thinks:

"After having fallen three positions in the last edition, the United Kingdom loses another place to settle at 13th this year. The country benefits from clear strengths such as the efficiency of its labor market (8th), standing in contrast to the rigidity of many other European Union (EU) countries. The United Kingdom is also harnessing the latest technologies for productivity improvements: it is ranked 8th on the technological readiness pillar. The country continues to have sophisticated and innovative businesses, characteristics that are important for spurring productivity enhancements. The drop in rank is largely attributable to a weakening of the assessment of the country’s financial market, which has slipped from 5th to 24th place since last year, based on rising concerns in the business sector about the soundness of banks (126th) on the back of several banking-sector bankruptcies and bailouts. In this context it is not surprising that a significant and growing weakness remains the United Kingdom’s macroeconomic instability (71st, down 13 places since last year), with low national savings, an exploding public-sector deficit (related in large part to recent efforts to bail out the financial sector), and consequential public indebtedness.

At the other end of the scale, Zimbabwe has ceded last place to Burundi.

(1) Might or might not be tongue in cheek.

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