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The Global Competitiveness Report 2010–2011 is being
released at a time when the global economy continues
to be characterized by significant uncertainty. Growth
has resumed following important injections, in many
countries, of government stimulus spending aimed at
counterbalancing the worst global recession in decades.
Yet economies are advancing at different speeds and
there is still therisk of a “double dip” in a number of
countries. While emerging economies have, for the most
part, bounced back to healthy growth, advanced
economies face continuing difficulties such as persisting
unemployment, weak demand, and spiraling debt, while
still struggling with reforms in the financial and labor
markets, among other challenges. The International
Monetary Fund (IMF) predictsgrowth of 6.25 percent
for emerging markets, compared with 2.25 percent for
advanced economies in 2010.
In this context, policymakers are being confronted
with difficult economic management challenges.
Following their active stance in addressing the crisis
and the ensuing recession, governments are struggling
to unwind their deficit spending in an effort to control
soaring debts. Indeed, fearsof a double dip are hindering
many governments from articulating clear exit
strategies, a major topic of discussion in recent G-20
summits.1Yet without a clear commitment to getting
spending under control in the medium term, countries
will compromise their future ability to make pro-growth
investments in areas such as infrastructure, health, and
education, which are necessary for sustaineddevelopment
and competitiveness over the longer term.
Today’s still-difficult economic environment requires
not losing sight of long-term competitiveness fundamentals
amid short-term urgencies. Indeed, any exit strategies
must be complemented by competitiveness-enhancing
efforts aimed at improving the potential for growth in
the medium to longer run, which will in turn help to
eliminatefiscal imbalances. Competitive economies are
those that have in place factors driving the productivity
enhancements on which their present and future prosperity
is built. A competitiveness-supporting economic
environment can help national economies to support
high incomes and ensure that the mechanisms enabling
solid economic performance going into the future are
in place.
For more thanthree decades, the World Economic
Forum’s annual competitiveness reports have examined
the many factors enabling national economies to achieve
sustained economic growth and long-term prosperity.
Our goal over the years has been to provide benchmarking
tools for business leaders and policymakers to
identify obstacles to improved competitiveness, thus
stimulating discussion on the best strategiesand policies
to overcome them. In the current challenging economic
environment, our work specifically serves as a critical
reminder of the importance of taking into account theconsequences of our present actions on future prosperity
based on sustained growth.
Since 2005, the World Economic Forum has based
its competitiveness analysis on the Global Competitiveness
Index (GCI), a highlycomprehensive index for measuring
national competitiveness, which captures the microeconomic
and macroeconomic foundations of national
competitiveness.2
We define competitiveness as the set of institutions,
policies, and factors that determine the level of productivity of
a country. The level of productivity, in turn, sets the sustainable
level of prosperity that can be earned by an
economy.In other words, more competitive economies
tend to be able to produce higher levels of income for
their citizens. The productivity level also determines the
rates of return obtained by investments (physical,
human, and technological) in an economy. Because the
rates of return are the fundamental drivers of the
growth rates of the economy, a more competitive economy
is one that is likely to...
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