November 12, 2002
LITTLE EUROPE:Good News for Europe: And bad news for Latin America. (MARY ANASTASIA O'GRADY, November 12, 2002, Wall Street Journal)
In the 2003 Index of Economic Freedom, released today by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal, the big story is Europe. Six of the 10 freest economies in the Index are in North America or Europe and half of all "free" economies are in Europe. European politicians may cling to the rhetoric of socialism, but on much of that continent, economic liberty is gaining ground.
This year, economic freedom has advanced throughout the world; every region has improved. World-wide, 74 countries have better scores, 49 have worse scores, and 32 have scores that are unchanged. Of the 156 countries numerically graded in the Index, 15 are classified as "free," 56 as "mostly free," 74 as "mostly unfree," and 11 as "repressed." (The full rankings are here.)
In Europe, capital-friendly Luxembourg is the freest economy, ranking third in the world. Croatia, Slovenia and Iceland made the most dramatic improvements. Scandinavia, previously most noted for its socialism, has continued a trend toward more freedom, with four out of five economies there ranked as "free." Competitive tax rates have helped Ireland maintain its title as the Celtic tiger and a "free" economy.
The most impressive European story, though, may be Estonia, which ties for sixth place--out of 161 countries--with the U.S. and Denmark. In an essay in this year's Index, former Prime Minister Mart Laar details the country's journey toward freedom, highlighting the importance of property rights and the rule of law.
Geez, thought I was going to have to eat my words about Chile and France, but as you can see, the free economies of Europe do not include Germany or France, the driving forces behind the EU, among them. Chile had been listed as Free until this year and just barely drops out of the top rank.
Posted by Orrin Judd at November 12, 2002 5:59 PM