How to Be Optimistic About a Post-Brexit Britain

The nation's prospects rank far ahead of rivals such as the U.S. and Hong Kong

The British economy has proven resilient to the summer's Brexit vote, and a new survey gives some reason for optimism about the nation's prospects outside the European Union.

Only this ranking goes beyond the traditional measures of rising economic output and wages. Countries are rated in five known indicators of success to create what's called the Indigo Score. Global Perspectives, a journal created by Mikhail Fridman’s LetterOne investment business, assesses countries for stability and a legal framework;  creativity and innovation; economic diversity; a robust digital economy; and domestic freedoms. The nations are scored using more than 30 measures of economic potential, from the number of patent applications to the prevalence of mobile phone subscriptions.

By these measures, released today, the U.K. stands fifth out of 152 countries. Leading the table is Sweden, which scores well for freedom and stability. Two other Nordic nations – Finland and Denmark – sit in the top five thanks to high marks for “creativity and innovation.” The U.S. came 18th overall.

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 “In this new economic era, we believe the main source of a nation’s wealth is not the resource rent but the social infrastructure that allows every person to realize his or her intellectual and creative potential," said Stuart Bruseth, series director at Global Perspectives.

 The U.K. ranks particularly high in creativity and innovation – measured by, among other things, investment in research and development, tertiary education standards and literacy rates.

Although the rankings were compiled amid Britain's vote to leave the European Union, and released after the referendum, some of the data sources predate the decision.

University and business research and development may yet be imperiled by the Brexit vote, jeopardizing the flow of European researchers and academics into Britain.

Human capital is prioritized in the rankings, which value social infrastructure as well as more traditional natural resources.

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There are surprises in the data. The U.S. at 18th overall falls behind Estonia, Austria and Canada. Twenty countries - including Slovenia, the Czech Republic and Costa Rica - are judged as better for “freedom” than America.

Fewer surprises are found at the bottom of the table, home to Chad, Iraq and Syria.

Of interest: Ukraine (ranked 50th, with a low geopolitical stability score counteracting relatively good showings in other categories) sits next to Russia (ranked 51st, which can claim the 22nd-worst score for freedom). Hong Kong’s vibrant and diverse economy (placed 35th) lies 30 places ahead of China, with a freedom score one-eighth the global average.

Remarkably unremarkable is Namibia, which obtained an Indigo Score of 100.1, just about matching the average score of 100.

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