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美国经济自由度排名 日益萎缩

2014-01-17    来源:chinadaily    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

America's dwindling economic freedom

根据传统基金会和华尔街日报周二发布的2014年度经济自由指数显示,世界经济自由已经达到了历史新低。而在连续七年排名下跌之后,美国终于掉出了十大世界经济自由国家排行榜。

World economic freedom has reached record levels, according to the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom, released Tuesday by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal. But after seven straight years of decline, the US has dropped out of the top 10 most economically free countries.

For 20 years, the index has measured a nation's commitment to free enterprise on a scale of 0 to 100 by evaluating 10 categories, including fiscal soundness, government size and property rights. These commitments have powerful effects: Countries achieving higher levels of economic freedom consistently and measurably outperform others in economic growth, long-term prosperity and social progress. Botswana, for example, has made gains through low tax rates and political stability.

Those losing freedom, on the other hand, risk economic stagnation, high unemployment and deteriorating social conditions. For instance, heavy-handed government intervention in Brazil's economy continues to limit mobility and fuel a sense of injustice.

It's not hard to see why the US is losing ground. Even marginal tax rates exceeding 43% cannot finance runaway government spending, which has caused the national debt to skyrocket. The Obama administration continues to shackle entire sectors of the economy with regulation, including health care, finance and energy. The intervention impedes both personal freedom and national prosperity.

But as the US economy languishes, many countries are leaping ahead, thanks to policies that enhance economic freedom—the same ones that made the US economy the most powerful in the world. Governments in 114 countries have taken steps in the past year to increase the economic freedom of their citizens. Forty-three countries, from every part of the world, have now reached their highest economic freedom ranking in the index's history.

Hong Kong continues to dominate the list, followed by Singapore, Australia, Switzerland, New Zealand and Canada. These are the only countries to earn the index's "economically free" designation. Mauritius earned top honors among African countries and Chile excelled in Latin America. Despite the turmoil in the Middle East, several Gulf states, led by Bahrain, earned designation as "mostly free."

A realignment is under way in Europe, according to the index's findings. Eighteen European nations, including Germany, Sweden, Georgia and Poland, have reached new highs in economic freedom. By contrast, five others—Greece, Italy, France, Cyprus and the United Kingdom—registered scores lower than they received when the index started two decades ago.

The most improved players are in Eastern Europe, including Estonia, Lithuania and the Czech Republic. These countries have gained the most economic freedom over the past two decades. And it's no surprise: Those who have lived under communism have no trouble recognizing the benefits of a free-market system. But countries that have experimented with milder forms of socialism, such as Sweden, Denmark and Canada, also have made impressive moves toward greater economic freedom, with gains near 10 points or higher on the index scale. Sweden, for instance, is now ranked 20th out of 178 countries, up from 34th out of 140 countries in 1996.

The US and the UK, historically champions of free enterprise, have suffered the most pronounced declines. Both countries now fall in the "mostly free" category. Some of the worst performers are in Latin America, particularly Venezuela, Argentina, Ecuador and Bolivia. All are governed by crony-populist regimes pushing policies that have made property rights less secure, spending unsustainable and inflation evermore threatening.


Despite financial crises and recessions, the global economy has expanded by nearly 70% in 20 years, to $54 trillion in 2012 from $32 trillion in 1993. Hundreds of millions of people have left grinding poverty behind as their economies have become freer. But it is an appalling, avoidable human tragedy how many of the world's peoples remain unfree—and poor.

The record of increasing economic freedom elsewhere makes it inexcusable that a country like the US continues to pursue policies antithetical to its own growth, while wielding its influence to encourage other countries to chart the same disastrous course. The 2014 Index of Economic Freedom documents a world-wide race to enhance economic opportunity through greater freedom—and this year's index demonstrates that the US needs a drastic change in direction.(ChinaDaily)

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20年来,该经济自由指数通过对10个目录(包括财政稳健,政府规模以及产权等)进行评估,把一个国家对自由企业制度的致力程度分为0到100的等级进行考量。政府对自由企业制度的投入具有强大的影响力——一个能达到更高自由度的国家通常能持续而明显地在经济增长、长期繁荣、社会进步等方面超越其他国家。以波萨诺瓦为例,该国通过低税率和政治稳定获得了不错的收益。

另一方面,那些正不断失去自由的国家,则会面临经济停滞、高失业率以及社会状况恶化等风险。例如在巴西,政府对经济的严重干预将持续限制流动性,加剧不公正性。
美国正在节节败退,这是显而易见的。甚至连超过43%的边际税率都已都不能负担已经失控的政府经费,这导致了国债的飙升。然而奥巴马政府仍继续通过监管加大对整个经济部门(包括医疗、金融和能源)的束缚。这种干预不仅阻妨碍了个人自由,也阻碍了国家繁荣。

在美国经济萎缩的同时,很多国家却在大步前进——多亏了那些增加了国家经济自由度的政策——那些曾经让美国经济称霸全球的政策。在过去几年,114个国家的政府采取了各种措施以促进国民经济自由的增长。分布在世界不同地区的43个国家的经济自由度已经在指数排名上达到了历史新高。

在今年的经济自由指数中,香港的排名依然领先,而紧随其后的分别是新加坡、澳大利亚、瑞士、新西兰和加拿大,也只有这几个国家被指数列入“经济自由”的行列中去。毛里求斯在众非洲国家中赢得了最高荣誉,而智利则在拉美国家中表现突出。尽管中东局势动乱,几个海湾国家——以巴林岛为首——也赢得了“经济最自由”的称号。
根据指数调查发现,欧洲国家的重组正在悄然进行。德国、瑞典、格鲁吉亚和波兰在内的18个国家在经济自由度上再创新高,而与此相反,希腊、德国、法国、塞浦路斯和英国等5个国家所获得的评级则相比20年前更低了。

此外,进步最大的选手在东欧——其中包括爱沙尼亚、立陶宛和捷克共和国。这些国家都在过去20年间获得了最大限度的经济自由。这并不令人惊讶:对这些生活在共产主义体制下的人们来说,意识到自由市场体制的好处并非难事。而那些以温和的社会主义形式进行试验的国家,比如瑞典、丹麦、加拿大,同样在获取经济自由上取得了傲人的成绩——他们的指数评级都接近10点甚至超过10点。以瑞典为例,如今它在178个国家里排名第20,而1996年它在140个国家里排名只不过是第34。

历史上美国和英国曾鼓吹自由企业制度,也都曾经历过最显著的衰退。如今,两个国家都掉到了“基本自由”这一分类里。表现最差的几个国家在拉丁美洲,而委内瑞拉、阿根廷、厄瓜多尔和玻利维亚等国在其中尤为突出。这些国家都采取亲民的民粹主义政权,其推行的政策使得公民的财产权无法得到安全保障,国家开销难以为继,通胀也变得更加严重。
尽管出现了金融危机以及与此相伴的经济衰退,全球经济在20年里依然扩张了将近70%,从1993年的32万亿美元增长到了2012年的54万亿美元。随着经济日益的自由,数以百万计的人们摆脱了贫困。但世界上还有许许多多的人们依然生活在经济不自由的国家,过着贫穷的生活——这是一个令人震惊的悲剧,但并不是不可避免的。

世界各地经济自由度在不断增长,而美国还继续采取与经济增长相对立的政策,与此同时,利用自己的影响力鼓励其他国家遵循它这种灾难性的进程,这种行为实在不可原谅。2014年的经济自由指数记录了一场通过提升经济自由度来追逐经济增长机遇的竞赛。同时,美国也亟需转变前进方向。


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