The latest international Index of Economic Freedom revealed that the economy of the United States lost even more liberty for a fourth consecutive year, dropping from ninth to tenth place under the Obama administration and solidifying its designation as “mostly free” — earned in 2009, down from “free” the year before that.
The global trend was also disappointing to free-market advocates, with the world average falling as governments ramped up spending in a failed effort to fight the economic crisis.
The respected index, published by the U.S.-based Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal, has ranked the economic freedom of almost 180 countries annually for the past 18 years. It uses a score out of 100 based on the average of rankings earned in 10 different categories: labor freedom, business freedom, trade freedom, fiscal freedom, government spending, monetary freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom, property rights, and freedom from corruption.
In first place was Hong Kong — as usual — with a score of almost 90, up 0.2 points over last year. Singapore was a close second, followed by Australia, New Zealand, and Switzerland — all of which earned a designation of “free.” Canada, Chile, Mauritius, and Ireland also finished in the top 10, with the United States lagging behind with a score of 76.3, down 1.5 points from the year before.
Sub-Saharan Africa made the biggest gains in economic freedom during 2011 for the second year in a row, according to the data. Mauritius even earned the highest ranking ever achieved by an African nation. However, the region still trails the rest of the world overall in most categories.
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