These are the world’s most competitive economies: US No. 1

How well countries adapt to the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) will determine whether they ‘thrive’ or ‘stagnate’ and could further divide workforces and increase social tensions, according to the latest version of the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report. Almost 40 years after its first annual assessment of the global economy, the Forum’s 2018 report uses new methodology to understand the full impact of the 4IR, and finds factors including human capital, agility, resilience, openness and innovation becoming increasingly important.The new index measures 140 economies against 98 indicators, organized into 12 ‘pillars’ or drivers of productivity, to determine how close the economy is to the ideal state or ‘frontier’ of competitiveness. The US topped the rankings, being ‘closest to the competitiveness frontier’, with Singapore, Germany, Switzerland and Japan, completing the top five. At the other end of the scale, Haiti, Yemen and Chad were found to be the least competitive economies. Competitiveness is not only associated with higher incomes, but also better socioeconomic outcomes, including life satisfaction.Explaining the new approach to measuring competitiveness, Thierry Geiger, Head, Research and Regional Impact, Future of Economic Progress at the World Economic Forum, said: “Productivity is the single most important driver of growth in 2018. With the Fourth Industrial Revolution in full swing, there is a need to rethink the drivers of competitiveness and therefore of long-term growth.

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It's really a good news. My question is : How much of this due to the improvement in US economy and how much is due to the decline of other economies?

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1 minute ago, Pavel said:

It's really a good news. My question is : How much of this due to the improvement in US economy and how much is due to the decline of other economies?

Good question. Could be both :)

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It's hard for me to share the delight  when millions of Americans still don’t have insurance. And no one care about the rapidly rising national debt anymore. It’s a ticking time bomb.

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I hope this will translate to business boom and more jobs for the masses and not some economist paper analogy that won't manifest in feasible form. Anyways,  it is a good news.

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On 10/18/2018 at 11:25 AM, 50 shades of black said:

It's hard for me to share the delight  when millions of Americans still don’t have insurance. And no one care about the rapidly rising national debt anymore. It’s a ticking time bomb.

As an American, I've met too many Americans who are unwilling to work.  I've shown them options, and they refuse to act.  Sometimes they scream at me for being a "privileged white male".  After seeing that, my opinion is that health care should be earned. 

As for the debt, its rapid - and permanent - rise was a foregone conclusion once Obama weaponized federal money for political purposes.  No doubt past presidents did the same, but not on the same scale.  From Obama forward, it's been clear that if one party left money on the table, the other would spend it.  Obama also made it clear that leaving money on the table was an invitation to attack conservative industries. 

The tax reform was a clever salvo in this war.  By reducing taxes and rearranging the rules, Republicans sent an ultimatum to Democrats: the economy will grow, or your poor constituents will suffer.  E.g.:

- The only way we're staying ahead of the debt avalanche is pro-business policies.  Deregulation, increased manufacturing, reduced imports, energy exports, lower energy costs - we need it all.  Attacking conservative industries will harm the economy, which will reduce government revenues, which will increase inflation.  Inflation will disproportionately harm liberal voters. 

- Redefining inflation will cause the purchasing power of government employees, welfare recipients, and low-wage workers to decline.  This will make it more difficult for Democrats to promote expensive policies, like renewable energy and electric vehicles.  They can try to subsidize it, but that will only result in more inflation.  Again, there's no money left on the table; we must be practical. 

- Subsidizing expensive technologies, like renewables, will have the double effect of increasing inflation and increasing utility bills.  Poor voters will be esp. displeased with this. 

Basically, the tax reform ensured that we're all in this together.  There's no money left; either we all win by growing the economy, or we all lose through inflation.  Of course, the tax reform had other effects - like selectively stripping money from liberal districts - but aligning everyone's interests through a common debt enemy was particularly clever. 

The only way we'll get out from under the debt leviathan is if the country, as a whole, becomes more responsible.  When everyone can be trusted to use public dollars wisely, we'll let it dwindle.  Until then, having any sort of reserve is dangerous. 

As a final note: there have been articles about how Trump's use of America's financial clout will bite us later.  I suspect this is calculated: he's wringing all the benefit possible for his constituents and leaving nothing behind for future, opposing administrations.  Reducing America's financial clout also forces our government/corporations to focus internally.  If they want power, they'll have to obtain it by cooperating with the American people - as opposed to the past, when rich coastal cities were content to actively harm the heartland.  Again, it's about aligning everyone's interests.  We're all in this together now. 

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On 10/18/2018 at 11:25 AM, 50 shades of black said:

It's hard for me to share the delight  when millions of Americans still don’t have insurance.

Statements like this frustrate me.  What most people don't realize is that insurance is a cost...not a benefit.  The more people who have insurance, then the slower the economy grows.  Insurance is a product that must be bought, and as such, it removes wealth from the equation...it does not add to wealth (as so many people seem to falsely believe).  In this way, insurance is needed for the economy just about as much as the Powerball is needed.

Certainly, insurance can minimize certain risks, but it cannot do this without adding to costs.  Often in the insurance industry, those added costs greatly exceed the benefits of the protection.  

To illustrate...

My Grandma bought my Dad a life insurance product on the day he was born.  That product will be worth $10,000 in cash when my Dad dies.  Had my Grandma instead put all of those insurance premiums into an index fund, my Dad would now be worth over $10 million. 

So here is the math... since they each cost the same to buy, which would you rather have in the end: a $10,000 insurance payout, or an investment portfolio worth $10,000,000?  (hint: ask a preschooler)

So where did that extra $9,990,000 disappear to?  Well, just how exactly do you think all of those insurance agents can afford their yachts?

 

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On 10/18/2018 at 11:25 PM, 50 shades of black said:

It's hard for me to share the delight  when millions of Americans still don’t have insurance.

@mthebold and @Epic make good points and help give perspectives we should all consider.

My take is that all people should have the right to the same health care.  I limit this stance to treatments (and preventive care, which I address next.), meaning if you ultimately contract cancer, or other similarly serious disease, you should be given all possible available care to fight the disease. 

Preventive care simply makes sense: if you catch a potentially serious disease like cancer early, then the possibility of survival are much better and the overall cost is much less.

Elective care should not be expected, but can be provided for cost.  For that seemingly controversial question of whether or not health care should include birth control or abortion services, I see these as elective.  The politics gets into this because some people want our government to do what is moral and right, in the their eyes, vs how the government should not promote immoral and wrong practices (unprotected sex and unwanted pregnancy, which cost society mush more in the long run.).  It is just my opinion, and that doesn't matter much, but I don't think it is governments place to tell me what is moral or not.  Not an easy question, no doubt, and that is why we will probably always have controversy with this subject.

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10 hours ago, Epic said:

So here is the math... since they each cost the same to buy, which would you rather have in the end: a $10,000 insurance payout, or an investment portfolio worth $10,000,000?  (hint: ask a preschooler)

So where did that extra $9,990,000 disappear to?  Well, just how exactly do you think all of those insurance agents can afford their yachts?

Always the investment man!  Your advice is sound.  What is not sound is that our society and our schools do not offer any promotion of proper financial planning to our young.  Our schools provide basic maths, some schools to a higher level than others, but they do not sit everyone down and teach them how to make a lifetime financial plan leading to retirement.  This should be a core curriculum the same as reading, writing and arithmetic.  I suppose this comes from our parent's generation having jobs that provided retirement plans and programs in place that were meant to take care of them into their golden years.  Well, those days are gone with nearly no companies offering retirement programs anymore, or, if they do, it is to a very limited number of full time employees with the rest of the work relegated to contractors/consultants (such as myself).

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6 hours ago, Dan Warnick said:

@mthebold and @Epic make good points and help give perspectives we should all consider.

My take is that all people should have the right to the same health care.  I limit this stance to treatments (and preventive care, which I address next.), meaning if you ultimately contract cancer, or other similarly serious disease, you should be given all possible available care to fight the disease. 

Preventive care simply makes sense: if you catch a potentially serious disease like cancer early, then the possibility of survival are much better and the overall cost is much less. 

Elective care should not be expected, but can be provided for cost.  For that seemingly controversial question of whether or not health care should include birth control or abortion services, I see these as elective.  The politics gets into this because some people want our government to do what is moral and right, in the their eyes, vs how the government should not promote immoral and wrong practices (unprotected sex and unwanted pregnancy, which cost society mush more in the long run.).  It is just my opinion, and that doesn't matter much, but I don't think it is governments place to tell me what is moral or not.  Not an easy question, no doubt, and that is why we will probably always have controversy with this subject.

 

I don't want to pay for other peoples' mistakes.  To wit:

- If a young man decides to ride a motorcycle to impress women, he should be fully responsible for his own medical bills.  If that means a hospital turns him away and he dies, then he dies.  The next one will think twice. You could say, "But that's a waste of a life!"  Yep.  And separating people from the consequences of their actions has produced a society that's bankrupting itself.  Which ultimately leads to more death & suffering? 

- If students decide to binge drink, they should be fully responsible for their medical bills - present and future.  If that means a hospital turns away someone with alcohol poisoning and they die, then they die.  The next one will think twice.  It's a waste of someone's life & potential, but the alternative is the culture of debauchery universities have developed.  That, in turn, has produced incompetent graduates and institutes of "learning" that are anything but.  So we can lose a few lives, or we can suffer widespread incompetence and societal decline.  Which ultimately leads to more death & suffering? 

- Obesity is my personal favorite.  The epidemic is so ubiquitous and people's minds have become so weak that the term "fat shaming" is used seriously.  People will even argue with their medical providers, nullifying the value of the care others are paying for! 

The list goes on.  The bottom line is that we no longer live in a disciplined society and, therefore, can't afford universal health care. 

Would I feel the same way if I had to stand there and watch a student die?  Absolutely.  I'd lecture the idiot's friends while it happened. 

 

6 hours ago, Dan Warnick said:

Always the investment man!  Your advice is sound.  What is not sound is that our society and our schools do not offer any promotion of proper financial planning to our young.  Our schools provide basic maths, some schools to a higher level than others, but they do not sit everyone down and teach them how to make a lifetime financial plan leading to retirement.  This should be a core curriculum the same as reading, writing and arithmetic.  I suppose this comes from our parent's generation having jobs that provided retirement plans and programs in place that were meant to take care of them into their golden years.  Well, those days are gone with nearly no companies offering retirement programs anymore, or, if they do, it is to a very limited number of full time employees with the rest of the work relegated to contractors/consultants (such as myself).

The primitive form of this was "home economics".  Public schools stopped teaching home economics, shop classes, and other practical knowledge about the same time they became enthralled with "equality", "social justice", and sending every kid - however unqualified - to university.  I've watched friends go into education because they wanted to change it, only to give up and leave 1-2 years later.  At this point, the only option is to burn it to the ground and start over.  Personally, I support a voucher system: let students & parents choose whatever school they like, public or private.  Good teachers will concentrate in the best schools, and the worst schools will go bankrupt, leaving room in the market for new, less-corrupt entrants. 

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(edited)

42 minutes ago, mthebold said:

The primitive form of this was "home economics".  Public schools stopped teaching home economics, shop classes, and other practical knowledge about the same time they became enthralled with "equality", "social justice", and sending every kid - however unqualified - to university.  I've watched friends go into education because they wanted to change it, only to give up and leave 1-2 years later.  At this point, the only option is to burn it to the ground and start over.  Personally, I support a voucher system: let students & parents choose whatever school they like, public or private.  Good teachers will concentrate in the best schools, and the worst schools will go bankrupt, leaving room in the market for new, less-corrupt entrants. 

Oh yeah, I remember home-ec.  I took it in high school because I saw that most of the girls took it, and I wanted to be where the girls were.  I also heard they made cookies and cakes all the time, and that sounded pretty good too.  Turned out I was right on both counts and it was great.  But we didn't learn anything about financial planning. 

I just did a little search on home-ec and found a video promoting it from 1955.  I'm going to provide the link, but be warned: it might have your stomach turning and your eyes rolling.  NOT SUITABLE FOR ALL AUDIENCES!  Heh-heh!

Why Study Home Economics 1955 Vintage PSA Funny Public Service

I also took shop and then auto mechanics in vocational school, which lead to two university degrees in aviation, and FAA licenses in my pocket by the time I finished.  Last time I checked my old schools lost funding for those programs long ago, so a lot of young people were left without even those basic skills development classes.  For some kids that didn't end up going on to college, which was quite a few in those days, those classes provided basic training to get a labor or so-called low-skilled job (that was a demeaning category name, wasn't it?).  One more way that we have abandoned our young by cutting the shit out of school funding, and many of the other reasons you outlined in your comment.  Our generations are failing our kids and the country and the world is paying the price for it.

Edited by Dan Warnick
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9 minutes ago, Dan Warnick said:

Oh yeah, I remember home-ec.  I took it in high school because I saw that most of the girls took it, and I wanted to be where the girls were.  I also heard they made cookies and cakes all the time, and that sounded pretty good too.  Turned out I was right on both counts and it was great.  But we didn't learn anything about financial planning. 

I just did a little search on home-ec and found a video promoting it from 1955.  I'm going to provide the link, but be warned: it might have your stomach turning and your eyes rolling.  NOT SUITABLE FOR ALL AUDIENCES!  Heh-heh!

Why Study Home Economics 1955 Vintage PSA Funny Public Service

I also took shop and then auto mechanics in vocational school, which lead to two university degrees in aviation, and FAA licenses in my pocket by the time I finished.  Last time I checked my old schools lost funding for those programs long ago, so a lot of young people were left without even those basic skills development classes.  For some kids that didn't end up going on to college, which was quite a few in those days, those classes provided basic training to get a labor or so-called low-skilled job (that was a demeaning category name, wasn't it?).  One more way that we have abandoned our young by cutting the shit out of school funding, and many of the other reasons you outlined in your comment.  Our generations are failing our kids and the country and the world is paying the price for it.

I remember home-ec too. We had to refinish furniture (no lie!), bake cakes, learn how to cook, and even play the stock market. And yes, wood shop was a requirement. Also required when I was in sixth grade: hunter safety, snowmobile safety, and boating safety. Practical stuff that you can use every day. Yes, we are failing our children, who often graduate high school thinking university is the only option, and shamed if they aspire to be anything else.

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4 minutes ago, Rodent said:

I remember home-ec too. We had to refinish furniture (no lie!), bake cakes, learn how to cook, and even play the stock market. And yes, wood shop was a requirement. Also required when I was in sixth grade: hunter safety, snowmobile safety, and boating safety. Practical stuff that you can use every day. Yes, we are failing our children, who often graduate high school thinking university is the only option, and shamed if they aspire to be anything else.

Sounds like you grew up in a great place.  I loved growing up where I did and the schools that I went to.  There was always a job to be had, all you had to do was go around and ask and you'd be working within a day, or two at most.  I even went back home over the years when I was out of work and it was still just about as easy with the same people that used to give them before, or their kids that remembered me from before.  Now my hometown is in sad shape: about 25% less people, the school has been shuttered and "consolidated" with other area schools, and out of about 50 businesses back in the day there is now one auto garage and a gas station.  Seriously, that's it.  I'm not talking about coal country but corn and beans country.  Good thing I got a good education and got out.  

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2 hours ago, Dan Warnick said:

Oh yeah, I remember home-ec.  I took it in high school because I saw that most of the girls took it, and I wanted to be where the girls were.  I also heard they made cookies and cakes all the time, and that sounded pretty good too.  Turned out I was right on both counts and it was great.  But we didn't learn anything about financial planning

I just did a little search on home-ec and found a video promoting it from 1955.  I'm going to provide the link, but be warned: it might have your stomach turning and your eyes rolling.  NOT SUITABLE FOR ALL AUDIENCES!  Heh-heh!

Why Study Home Economics 1955 Vintage PSA Funny Public Service

I once asked my mom about Home Economics.  She described it as a practical primer on how to manage a home - but that was in a rural area where the most common career was farming.  By "farming", I mean, "business ownership and management within the agriculture industry".  These communities were fiercely competent; by the time kids reached high school, they'd already learned the basics.  The problem with your class may have been that everyone was a beginner. 

The great irony of feminists deriding home economics is that it's a precursor to management.  Homemakers are actually home managers - and  if you've never made things yourself, you can't manage.  Period.  Doesn't matter if it's cookies* or machine tools as long as you've made something

In engineering, the absolute necessity of learning the grunt work is gospel.  Those who learn succeed.  Those who don't become dead weight and pariahs.  Tradesmen toy with them constantly, their peers avoid them, and managers give them the worst assignments.  Why?  Because they can't find their ass with their own two hands.  The real proof is in who gets the most interesting, lucrative engineering jobs with the greatest room for advancement: the students who spend long hours in the shop designing & building things. 

*Anyone who mocks cooking skills is a flaming moron.  If you want to understand fundamentals of process control, learn to make chocolate chip cookies to a consistently high standard.  For the guys: if you want to measure a girl's intelligence, discipline, and attention to detail, see how well she cooks a full meal.  It's not about the food; it's about the traits necessary to make the food. 

 

2 hours ago, Rodent said:

I remember home-ec too. We had to refinish furniture (no lie!), bake cakes, learn how to cook, and even play the stock market. And yes, wood shop was a requirement. Also required when I was in sixth grade: hunter safety, snowmobile safety, and boating safety. Practical stuff that you can use every day. Yes, we are failing our children, who often graduate high school thinking university is the only option, and shamed if they aspire to be anything else.

Public schools are failing kids for sure.  On the other hand, I've noticed that good parents mentor their kids to avoid this.  In that sense, the failing public school system has become a sorting mechanism: families that teach discipline, work ethic, and humility end up with successful offspring.  Families that pursue entertainment, easy money, and "following your dreams" fail hard.

It's particularly interesting that one cannot legally default on student loans; the debt is carried forever.  Ideologies preaching the ethereal value of "education" w/o practical application lead their self-absorbed acolytes down a path of immutable failure.  They saddle themselves with debt for degrees in philosophy, literature, and gender studies only to discover that they're unemployable, unmarriageable, slaves of the state.  It's hilarious, tbh. 

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