U.S. slips in competitiveness report

World currencies

TEXT OF STORY

BILL RADKE: We're number four! We're number four! The United States fell two spots to become the fourth most competitive economy on the planet. So says a new study out today from the World Economic Forum. The report ranks the world's countries based on living standards and business growth. For more we're joined live by Marketplace's Scott Tong in Washington. Good morning, Scott.

SCOTT TONG: Hey Bill.

RADKE: So the U.S. didn't get gold, or the silver, or even bronze this year. What happened?

TONG: Blame our banks and blame our borrowing. The survey ranks countries in 12 categories. And the U.S. got dinged for its low savings rate, which came at 130th out of 139 countries. And for its government debt. As far as our financial system, the credit wreck we've had means soundness of American banks ranks very low. And business access to credit is also a problem. The good news, Bill, the U.S. has a huge market, and its universities and research are considered tops.

RADKE: So why did we get passed up? And who's better than us?

TONG: Well today's show is brought to you by the letter S. Because we have Switzerland, which came in first -- which has great infrastructure and great capacity to innovate, according to the survey. Then there's Sweden with high levels of broadband access. And then Singapore, which is deemed good at luring foreign investors and educating its kids. All these factors, according to the studiers, are ingredients for what they call a "high and rising standard of living." Now I know you're going to ask about China, Bill, it rose to 27th -- with a very high savings rate. And if you're keeping score among other emerging economies -- India 51, Brazil 58.

RADKE: Marketplace's Scott Tong in Washington. Thank you, Scott.

TONG: You're welcome.

About the author

Scott Tong is a correspondent for Marketplace’s sustainability desk, with a focus on energy, environment, resources, climate, supply chain and the global economy.

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