Wry & Dry

World competitiveness ranking: Australia where?

So, Napoleon Turnbull wants to improve Australia's productivity?  Well, he started on the right foot by ditching some of the hi-loyalty lo-competence ministers of Mr Abbott's era.  But, believe it or not, there is much more to do outside Planet Canberra.

The World Economic Forum's Annual Global Competitiveness Report has just hit Wry & Dry's desk.  And it doesn't make for pleasant reading for the new PM.  Nor the wannabee PM, William Shorten.

Predictably, more-or-less, the top 10 most productive countries are:

                     1. Switzerland

                     2. Singapore

                     3. USA

                     4. Germany

                     5. Netherlands

                     6. Japan

                     7. Hong Kong SAR

                     8. Finland

                     9. Sweden

                     10. UK

Australia limps home in 21st position, embarrassingly behind New Ziland (16).

Still, we are ahead of Iceland (29); Italy (43) and Russia (55).  Greece effortlessly slides into 81st place, just behind those titans of productivity: Tajikistan and Ukraine.  Guinea is the wooden spoon winner in 140th place. 

W&D hears some readers say, "So what, 21st out of 140 isn't too bad".  Well, W&D is afraid that it's bad.  Let W&D give it to you on the chin: our standard of living (as measured, as economists do, by national income per person) is falling.  And has been since 2010. 

Going back to Economics 101, per capita income growth is driven by four factors: productivity growth; the participation rate (percent of the working age population that is employed or actively seeking employment); net foreign income and the terms of trade.  And the collapse in our terms of trade (mainly commodity export prices going sharply down) and our participation rate decline will make it worse in the future.

So what to do about it?  See below for the areas that need work...

Reading the fine print...

It's a weighty tome, but W&D has its readers in mind and has gone to the heart of the report about Australia.  This is the where Australia's competitiveness problems are laid bare.

There are 12 'pillars' of competitiveness.  As you can see from the table Australia is amazingly strong in some areas (e.g Health & primary education; Higher education & training; Financial market development), but woeful in Labor market efficiency.   And disappointing in Business sophistication and Goods market efficiency.  Scores are out of seven: Australia's score is 5.1, ranking 21st.

Competitiveness

If your are really, really curious for all the detail it can be found here.