retail news in context, analysis with attitude

by Kevin Coupe

The World Economic Forum is out with its annual study of global competitiveness, and the United States has fallen from fourth to fifth place; the study says that the drop in rankings comes because of economic problems, government inefficiency, and declining public trust.

According to the BBC story,”the report uses 12 categories to assess a country's ranking: institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication and innovation.”

Now ranked above the US are Switzerland, Singapore, Sweden and Finland; it is followed on the list by Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Japan and the UK. No so-called “emerging markets” made it into the top 10, as China was ranked 26th,, and Brazil, India and Russia didn’t even make it into the top 50. The BBC writes that “although the report pointed to the shift in fortunes from developed countries to developing, saying that competitiveness in advanced economies has stagnated over the seven years since the WEF began compiling it, emerging markets made little headway up the rankings.”

Much is made in the US about the notion of “American exceptionalism.” It will be a phrase that will be often used in this political season.

But as often is suggested here on MNB, “American exceptionalism” is not a birthright, is not something to be taken for granted. It is earned every day ... and a decline in competitiveness has to be alarming. (We get beaten by Finland?)

When I read these stories, I always think of what iconic retailer Norman Mayne once told me. Mayne is always a little embarrassed and sheepish when people and publications describe his Dorothy Lane Markets as being legendary. That’s very nice, he says, but “legendary is what we were yesterday. Today, we have to earn it all over again.”

That’s how you are competitive. Not by being complacent. But by waking up like your hair is on fire.

And I always think this is - or ought to be - an Eye-Opener.
KC's View: