US comes in 2nd in competitiveness poll

GENEVA - September 8, 2009 The U.S. is second ranked in a poll of over 13,000 business leaders conducted by the Geneva-based World Economic Forum, behind Switzerland. Singapore is third and Sweden comes forth.

"Given that the financial crisis originated in large part in the United States, it is hardly surprising that there has been a weakening of the assessment of its financial market sophistication," the survey said. "The country's greatest weakness continues to be related to its macroeconomic stability."

Switzerland has overtaken the U.S. because its economic performance has been "relatively stable," the survey said. Swiss financial markets have "weakened somewhat," it said, citing difficulties for banks.

The major Swiss banks have been hard hit by the financial crisis. The survey made no mention of Swiss banking secrecy, that has started to crumble under U.S. pressure to hand over client names of American taxpayers suspected of setting up secret offshore accounts with Swiss bank UBS AG.

Third-ranked Singapore has gone up two places since last year's survey mainly because of increased confidence in the country's public institutions, efficient markets for goods and labor, as well as high-quality financial markets, according to the poll.

Sweden maintained its fourth rank, while Denmark slipped two ranks to fifth. They were followed by Finland, Germany, Japan, Canada and the Netherlands.

Pollsters asked business figures to rate 133 countries on good government; transport and telecommunications infrastructure; openness to innovation; intellectual property protection; and availability of talent.


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