Life's Better Ideas

Occasional links to, and comments on, ideas that I think will make this a better world, and remarks about things that need fixing, too.

Location: Denver, Colorado, United States

Monday, August 15, 2005

Doing business

"Doing business in 2005" is the name of an eye-opening report from the World Bank. It ranks 145 nations on a variety of factors: Starting a business, Hiring and firing workers, Registering property, Enforcing contracts, Getting credit, Protecting investors, and Closing a business. The overview mentions Hernando De Soto's The Mystery of Capital, so I'm assuming the book had a fairly substantial impetus for this project, which is in it's second year.
This project is already having substantial impact worldwide. Turkey, for example reduced the time to start a business from 38 days to 9 (76%) and the number of steps involved from 13 to 8 (38%).
The report seems to be well done, with specific procedures developed for measuring tasks in the various countries. Starting a business, for example, measures 4 items to rank nations: Number of procedures, Time (calendar days), Cost as a percent of per capita income, and Minimum capital as a percent of per capita income.
Some of the indicators are being used to drive programs like the United States' Millenium Challenge Account.
Nations that participate in this program are likely to become more competitive with the United States, which means that we will need to undertake significant reforms as well to retain our competitive edge. As they become more prosperous, I think they are less likely to support terrorists, and that means the United States will have less need to have a military presence overseas. That won't change overnight, but if this project jumpstarts ongoing reforms, in 10 to 20 years we should see major progress.
You can find more information and order the report here.


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