Last week, The Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal released a study looking at which global economies were the world's freest and which were the most repressed. The authors of the study base the notion of economic freedom on such areas as low taxes, low inflation and liberalized trading policies. Given these criteria and others, "Hong Kong and Singapore retained their No. 1 and No. 2 rankings respectively on the annual Index of Economic Freedom for the 14th successive year. Both port cities benefit from low taxes and liberalized trade." Ireland came in third place. Among the largest Asian economies, China, Japan and India are further down on the list.
Outside of Asia, the US is turning inward while Europe is turning outward. According to an Editor of the Wall Street Journal's Asia edition, "While Europe was moving more greater economic liberalization, the prevailing sentiment in the United States was protectionism ... We have Democratic candidates coming out against free trade agreement and for higher taxes ... On the Republican side too, there's talk of protecting American jobs. Meanwhile, you have a Congress which is considering a clutch of bills aimed at punishing China for exporting too much to American consumers." Fascinating stuff, I say. So next time someone tells you about economic freedom in the US, perhaps you should direct them to the top performing economies in Asia and Europe, which make the US look like the old Soviet Union by protectionist rhetorical comparison.
- Jason Busch