U.S. voters are being barraged by claims and counter claims of how many jobs were lost or created under the Obama administration, did the Detroit bailout hurt or help, and whether Obama or Republican stonewalling are to blame for the feeble recovery. This partisan din kicks up a huge cloud of dust as self-appointed “independent fact checkers” and “nonpartisan” think tanks contradict each other. Large numbers of economists, some prominent and others less so, line up on both sides. Pity the harried undecided voters in search of non-partisan information.
American voters could well look above our political fray to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index (GCI). Every year starting in 2004, the GCI ranks the world economies by their “competitiveness,” defined as “the set of institutions, policies, and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country,” which, in turn, determines “the level of prosperity that can be earned by an economy.”
Throughout most of its short history, the GCI ranked the United States first or second. At times, Switzerland, Finland, Singapore, Denmark, and Finland have given the U.S. a run for its money.
The GCI, to its credit, addresses what should be the core issue of any political debate in any country: How well have country leaders managed the economic and political institutions that create prosperity and growth? Obama should be re-elected or “let go” depending on how American voters evaluate his stewardship of America’s political and economic institutions.
The World Economic Forum’s motto is: “Committed to Improving the State of the World.” Its annual winter meeting in Davos, Switzerland attracts the world’s jet-setting political, business, and intellectual glitterati as they discuss issues de jure -- the world economy, health and HIV, climate change, and globalization. Presidents, prime ministers, central bankers, queens and parliamentary/congressional notables rub shoulders with Bill Gates, Russian oligarchs, Henry Kissinger, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, and Kofi Annan.
Barack Obama fits the intellectual, cosmopolitan, and global profile of the World Economic Forum to a T. A GCI conclusion that U.S. political and economic institutions deteriorated under Obama’s stewardship could not be spun as partisan by Obama’s spin masters.
go to forbes.com