NEWS & FEATURES
Would you know if someone was lying to you? Most of us like to think we would but every once in awhile we have to admit to ourselves that someone has pulled the wool over our eyes.
Plans are underway for the first manned mission to Mars -- just five years from now. The privately financed fly-by in 2018 would take a man and a woman -- both Americans -- on a modified existing U.S. spacecraft to within 160 kilometers of the surface of the Red Planet, and return them safely to Earth.
Spanish is not only a language, it is the heart of a culture, religion and history, and a communication tool shared by nearly 500 million people in 21 countries.
cerasus.media launched Mahjong Mysteries – Ancient Athena on Nintendo’s eShop service. Accompany the famous adventurer David on his most mysterious mission yet - the one that will change everything!
AC/DC Now on iTunes
Columbia Records and Apple® announced that AC/DC’s entire catalog is now available digitally for the first time exclusively on the iTunes Store® worldwide (www.itunes.com). From their 1976 debut High Voltage to seminal classic Back In Black and 2008 smash hit Black Ice, every one of AC/DC’s 16 studio albums, along with four live albums and three compilation albums, are available for the first time ever on the iTunes Store.
If you have bought a new television lately, the chances are it is a lot smarter than your old one. Smart TVs, also known as connected or hybrid televisions, featuring integrated internet connectivity, currently account for around a third of TV sales in Europe. They are the end point in a huge and rapidly expanding value chain driven by the intensifying convergence of television and the internet.
Switzerland, Finland and Sweden are the world’s most competitive economies according to The Global Competitiveness Report 2006-2007, released by the World Economic Forum on 26 September 2006.
Denmark, Singapore, the United States, Japan, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom complete the top ten list, but the United States shows the most pronounced drop, falling from first to sixth.
The United States, previously in first place, continues to enjoy an excellent business environment, efficient markets and is a global centre for technology development. However, its overall competitiveness is threatened by large macroeconomic imbalances, particularly rising levels of public indebtedness associated with repeated fiscal deficits. Its relative ranking remains vulnerable to a possible disorderly adjustment of such imbalances, including historically high trade deficits.
Chile is the most competitive economy in Latin America, according to the report.
As in previous years, Chile, ranked 27th, leads the rankings in Latin America and the Caribbean. Chile’s position reflects not only solid institutions – already operating at levels of transparency and openness above those of the EU on average – but also the presence of efficient markets that are relatively free of distortions. The state has played a supportive role in the creation of a credible, stable regulatory regime. Extremely competent macroeconomic management has been a critical element in creating the conditions for rapid growth and sustained efforts to reduce poverty, the report's preparers wrote.
The resources generated by Chile’s virtuous fiscal policy have gone to finance investment in infrastructure and, increasingly, education and public health. Given Chile’s strong competitive position, the authorities will have to focus attention on upgrading the capacity of the labour force with a view to rapidly narrowing the skills gap with respect to Finland, Ireland and New Zealand, the relevant comparator group for Chile.
Brazil’s ranking, 66th overall, down from 57th last year, reflects a particularly poor position in the macroeconomy pillar of the GCI (114th, as compared to 91st in 2005), resulting from a large budget deficit relative to that of other countries, if not to its historical performance. High levels of government debt and a wide interest rate spread give an indication of the heavy intermediation costs in the Brazilian banking sector, which negatively affect private sector investment and contribute to lower economic growth.
Mexico’s ranking has remained broadly stable, moving up one place to 58. The country’s somewhat uneven performance over the various pillars of the GCI is shown by relatively high scores for health and primary education, goods’ market efficiency and selected components of technological readiness, e.g., FDI and technology transfer, no doubt reflecting the close links of the Mexican market to the US in the context of NAFTA. However, this is offset by the same institutional weaknesses as are prevalent in the rest of Latin America.
As in previous years, Venezuela’s overall performance (88, down four places) continues to deteriorate, despite the emergence of a government budget surplus, a phenomenon seen in all oil-exporting countries. The single most important obstacle to development, however, appears to be the insufficient quality of Venezuelan institutions, especially to combat corruption, undue influence in decision-making and to reduce government intervention, all areas in which Venezuela figures among the worst ranks. For all the talk about the social dimension of the government’s “benign” revolution, school enrolment rates are either mediocre or poor, with Venezuela ranking 84th, just behind Vietnam, Suriname and China, at the secondary school level. Venezuela’s infant mortality rate of 16 per 1,000 live births is on a par with Albania and is higher than that of Russia or the Ukraine, two countries still recovering from decades of public health neglect.
A lack of sound and credible institutions remains a significant stumbling block in many Latin American countries. Bolivia (97), Ecuador (90), Guyana (111), Honduras (93), Nicaragua (95) and Paraguay (106) achieve low rankings overall and, in particular, are among the worst performers for basic elements of good governance, including reasonably transparent and open institutions. These countries all suffer from poorly defined property rights, undue influence, inefficient government operations, as well as unstable business environments. Perceived favouritism in government decision-making, an insufficiently independent judiciary, and security costs associated with high levels of crime and corruption make it difficult for the business community to compete effectively.
"The top rankings of Switzerland and the Nordic countries show that good institutions and competent macroeconomic management, coupled with world-class educational attainment and a focus on technology and innovation, are a successful strategy for boosting competitiveness in an increasingly complex global economy," said Augusto Lopez-Claros, Chief Economist Director, Global Competitiveness Network.
"Business activity in these countries benefits from a well-developed institutional framework, characterized by the rule of law, an efficient judicial system and high levels of transparency and accountability within public institutions. Excellent infrastructure is an additional positive feature of the business environment. Our indicators point to the rapidly growing importance of higher education and training as engines of productivity growth," Lopez-Claros added.
The rankings are drawn from a combination of publicly available hard data and the results of the Executive Opinion Survey, a comprehensive annual survey conducted by the World Economic Forum, together with its network of Partner Institutes (leading research institutes and business organizations) in the countries covered by the Report. This year, over 11,000 business leaders were polled in a record 125 economies worldwide.