Tuesday, January 13, 2009

European countries account for half of the top 20 economies considered free or mostly free

Hong Kong has been named the world's freest economy for the 15th year in a row, according to an annual report released by the conservative Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal that warns against government intervention amid the global economic crisis. The Chinese territory, known for its low taxes and looser regulations, was followed by Singapore, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand, according to the current Index of Economic Freedom. European countries again accounted for half of the top 20 economies considered free or mostly free, with Switzerland at No. 9 and the U.K. at No. 10. However, the U.S. slid one notch to sixth place, dinged for increased government spending and tax revenue as a percentage of gross domestic product, one of the survey's authors said. Ranking at the bottom was North Korea, followed by next-to-last Zimbabwe, Cuba, Myanmar and Eritrea. The southern African country, whose economy is in meltdown after years of state-endorsed violence and business controls, posted the biggest drop in the current report. The survey, which gauges 179 countries on 10 economic factors like trade barriers, property rights, taxes and market regulations, covers the year ending in June 2008, before the global meltdown led governments around the world to bailout financial institutions.

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