Poll: U.S. Still Tops In Competitiveness

U.S. still has world's most competitive economy, despite recent turmoil that has seen some Wall Street giants tumble and others turn to the Fed Reserve for bailouts.

GENEVA (AP) -- The U.S. still has the world's most competitive economy, despite the recent turmoil that has seen some Wall Street giants tumble and others turn to the Federal Reserve for financial bailouts, according to a survey released Wednesday.

In a poll of over 12,000 business figures conducted by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum, the U.S. ranked first ahead of Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden and Singapore.

Researchers defended the survey's accuracy despite the fact that it was conducted before the U.S. government announced a $700 billion rescue package to save ailing companies from collapse.

"In the context of the current crisis the index rather measures the ability of economies to limit the impact of the shock waves on the real economy and to bounce back quickly based on sound economic fundamentals," said Margareta Drzeniek Hanouz, one of the authors of the report.

"As the crisis spills over into the real economy, we may see a weakening of the assessment in some categories over the next year or two, in particular with respect to macroeconomic stability or public institutions, but this remains to be seen," she added.

Respondents to the poll praised the U.S. for its ability to innovate, the quality of its university system and the flexibility of its labor markets, Drzeniek Hanouz said.

Less welcomed were the current administration's repeated fiscal deficits, which were seen as a sign that the U.S. is failing to prepare for its future liabilities.

Finland came sixth in the poll, while Germany slipped two places to seventh because of worsening business confidence in Europe's biggest economy.

The Netherlands, Japan and Canada rounded off the top 10.

Britain, which came ninth last year, slipped down three spaces because of growing public debt and low national savings compared with other major economies.

Pollsters asked business figures to rate 134 countries according to factors that promote economic growth. These included government transparency and fiscal responsibility; transport and telecommunications infrastructure; openness to innovation; intellectual property protection; and the ready availability of talent.

China continued to rise in the rankings, reaching 30th place compared with its 37th place in the 2007-2008 poll.

India came 50th, followed by Russia in 51st.

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