Our banks are number one! Our governments, er, not so much

- September 5th, 2012

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has just released its 2011-2012 Global Competitiveness Index. One datapoint in that index that Prime Minister Stephen Harper and most of the Conservative caucus have clung to like a lifeline over the last few years is this one: Canada is ranked number one in the world when it comest to “Soundness of Banks.”  We’ve held that title since 2008 and we’re number one again this year. That guarantees that that talking point will be a highlight of Harper’s speeches abroad and around the country. In fact, he can boast of this statistic once again tomorrow when he speaks at a conference in Vancouver organized by the Bloomberg news service for investors and the like.

The Harper government — along with provincial governments — may also wish to boast over these two other data points:

- Canada ranked number 1 when it comes to fewest number of procedures required to open a business

- Canada ranked number 9 when it comes to number of days needed to open a business.

But while those data points give incumbent politicians something to crow about, the big picture gives opposition politicians in Ottawa and in provincial capitals a bat with which to beat up those incumbents. That’s because overall, Canada has dropped two points and we are now ranked the 14th on the Global Competitiveness Index. Not only that, but the WEF report says that the biggest barrier to improving our competitiveness is: : “Inefficient government bureaucracy.”

All that said: I’m not so sure these rankings can be taken seriously. I explain more on that here.

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