The World Economic Forum is a Swiss non-profit foundation founded in 1971 that is best known for its annual worldwide and regional meetings of business leaders, political leaders, and scholars to discuss pressing international issues. The organization is primarily funded by around 1000 member companies, who are primarily large multinational firms from around the world. Since the 1980s, political leaders have used the primary annual meeting as a neutral platform to gather and resolve differences. The organization also produces research reports.
Probably the most anticipated and widely used report is the annual Global Competitiveness Report, which has been published since 1979. The September 2012 report contains 545 pages, providing a plethora of comparative economic statistics.
For years, the U.S. was ranked number one in the world for competitiveness, but that has recently changed. For 2012, the U.S is ranked seventh out of 144 economies. The U.S. ranking in recent years is as follows:
The U.S. fares poorly in terms of its government and political environment. According to the report:
[W]eaknesses in particular areas have deepened since past assessments. The business community continues to be critical toward public and private institutions (41st). In particular, its trust in politicians is not strong (54th), perhaps not surprising in light of recent political disputes that threaten to push the country back into recession through automatic spending cuts. Business leaders also remain concerned about the government’s ability to maintain arms-length relationships with the private sector (59th), and consider that the government spends its resources relatively wastefully (76th). A lack of macroeconomic stability continues to be the country’s greatest area of weakness (111th, down from 90th last year).“
This article provides additional details and analysis of this report.