Politicians around the world are obsessed with how their countries rank in league tables--especially how attractive they are to business. Having in place the right laws and policies to nurture domestic growth and lure foreign investment can spell the difference between economic success and failure, not to mention prospects for re-election.
Bloomberg Rankings has analyzed dozens of data points from 11 sources to devise a new ranking of the world's best countries for business. Fifty nations were analyzed on six broad criteria including the cost of starting a business, the cost of labor and materials, and the cost of moving goods. The study also tallied how integrated each country was into the global economy, the "readiness" of its consumer base to participate in economic activity, and less tangible costs such as corruption and property rights protection.
The winner? Hong Kong, whose strong rankings on all six criteria edged it ahead of the Netherlands (No. 2) and the U.S. (No. 3). One surprise in the results was the relatively poor showing for the giants of emerging markets, the so-called BRIC countries of Brazil, Russia, India, and China. China came in at No. 19, thanks to a strong showing in the cost of transport, but Russia, India, and Brazil were ranked 48th, 49th, and 50th, respectively, due to less-developed consumer markets and intangible costs.
For a view of the top 20 countries, click ahead. A summary of the study methodology can be found on the last slide.