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Who are the world's best manufacturers of red tape?
October 22, 2007 6:53 AM   Subscribe

The US may be the economic superpower, and China the new manufacturing powerhouse, but there is one industry in which Africa still leads the world: the manufacture of red tape. The World Bank releases its 2008 Doing Business report (overview, pdf) on the ease of, well, doing business. The USA is pushed into third by plucky New Zealand and Singapore but overall Eastern Europe has overtaken East Asia as the most business-friendly environment behind high-income OECD countries.

How does the ease of hiring and firing balance against an overly-complicated tax system? See what impact reforms would have on your country's ranking. Methodology here.

[via Tim Harford's Undercover Economist blog at the Financial Times]
posted by patricio (34 comments total)

 
"Business-friendly" == "human-unfriendly"
posted by DU at 6:59 AM on October 22, 2007 [3 favorites]


Of course, DU. That's why business-friendly America and Europe are such terrible places to live, with low life expectancy, no healthcare or education, low literacy rates, high AIDS rates, civil wars and high infant mortality, while business-unfriendly Africa is a land of milk and honey!
posted by Aloysius Bear at 7:02 AM on October 22, 2007 [4 favorites]


African only expects you to please follow the guidelines.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:09 AM on October 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


That's why business-friendly America and Europe are such terrible places to live, with low life expectancy, no healthcare or education, low literacy rates,...

If you had stopped right there I might have assumed you were talking about America.
posted by Avenger at 7:19 AM on October 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


Wait, I thought Europe was full of business-hating commies.
posted by DU at 7:25 AM on October 22, 2007


Of course, DU. That's why business-friendly America and Europe are such terrible places to live, with low life expectancy, no healthcare or education, low literacy rates, high AIDS rates, civil wars and high infant mortality, while business-unfriendly Africa is a land of milk and honey!

You realize that "Business Friendly" America really does have worse health care, lower literacy, and even higher infant mortality then Europe, right? We're also embroiled in a Civil War right this very minute.
posted by delmoi at 7:31 AM on October 22, 2007 [3 favorites]


And yeah, the US has a higher AIDS rate then 57 other countries, including Germany, France, UK and the Netherlands.

So: Infant Mortality: Check, No healthcare: check for 40m americnas, High AIDS rates: Check compared to other less bussness friendly places, Civil War: Check (Iraq).

But the U.S. is a great place to live if you're in the the upper middle class.
posted by delmoi at 7:36 AM on October 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Uh, delmoi and Avenger and anyone else who's hard of understanding, read the sentence again. Relative to Africa, the US and Europe are both business-friendly and excellent places to live.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 7:41 AM on October 22, 2007


Uh, delmoi and Avenger and anyone else who's hard of understanding, read the sentence again. Relative to Africa, the US and Europe are both business-friendly and excellent places to live.

You're the one who needs to read the sentence again. it doesn't include the word "Africa" or "relative too", nor did the comment you replied to.
posted by delmoi at 7:46 AM on October 22, 2007


I CAN HAS HEALTHCARE ARGUMENT?
posted by b1tr0t at 7:48 AM on October 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Relative to Africa, the US and Europe are both business-friendly and excellent places to live.

Africa has many problems that non-excellence can be laid at the feet of. (Including being pretty "friendly" to foreign corporations that want to exploit local resources and people.) Whereas Europe and the US are fairly comparable. And within that grouping, the more "business-friendly" one is the less human-friendly one.
posted by DU at 7:53 AM on October 22, 2007


“Business-friendly == human-unfriendly”

Yeah, I hear that New Zealand is a hell-hole of human misery.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:09 AM on October 22, 2007 [4 favorites]


We're also embroiled in a Civil War right this very minute.
posted by delmoi at 9:31 AM on October 22


Really? Citation plz. Kthx.
posted by dios at 9:21 AM on October 22, 2007


Heh, I love Metafilter. Few places on the web could you get a response of: "The Treaty of Westphalia, goddammit!" to the question: "Why is the sky blue?" I'm specifically referring to DU's amazingly naive and uninformed comment.

To give a bit of context, I've been working with and am currently working with the government of one of this years "top reformers" in the rankings on how to improve their business environment, their business processes, their red tape situation, etc. in order to improve their rankings even further. So I vaguely kind of know what's going on with them considering that I and my team are on the ground in one of these countries working on this. So that said...

If you look at the methodology behind the rankings -- which is clearly laid out in one of the links -- you'll see that they deal with such things as "how many days does it take to set up a business?", "what is the minimum capital requirement to set up a business?", "how many days does it take a creditor to recoup money post-bankruptcy?" I'm the first person to scream from the rooftops about workers' rights and protecting people but this type of ranking actually helps small businesses (i.e., the humans on the ground) understand what they are getting into, and enables small investors to start businesses easier, etc. All this said, the rankings enable the two primary ways for countries to achieve sustainable development: attracting foreign direct investment and growing the number and profitability of small businesses and small to medium enterprises. Those are both Good things.

For full disclosure, there was one small measure that was a bit troubling to me at first; that was how many days pay does a firm need to pay a worker when they are laid off. As you can imagine, the fewer days pay the better a country would rate. One out of something like 200+ measures hardly gets my knickers in a twist though.
posted by lazywhinerkid at 9:40 AM on October 22, 2007 [4 favorites]


dios, check these out.

(He didn't say where the civil war was, just that we were embroiled in it. tricksy, these mefitses...)
posted by lodurr at 9:53 AM on October 22, 2007


Wait. United States = Iraq? Because for the fighting in Iraq to be considered a civil war for the United States, it would have to by definition be part of the United States. And there is that whole trifling fact that Iraq is sovereign and all.

Oh, wait... I get it. It was an asinine attempt to make a rhetorical point and not intended to be accurate.
posted by dios at 9:58 AM on October 22, 2007


"Business-friendly" == "human-unfriendly"

Hmm. More like Business-unfreindly == bribery and corruption friendly, but I guess corrupt officials are humans too.
posted by Artw at 10:03 AM on October 22, 2007


dios: Accurate? Sure it was accurate, at least as I read it -- and, of course, strictly speaking. There's a civil war; we're embroiled in it. If you accept those premises, "the US is embroiled in a civil war" is perfectly accurate.

Now, you may want to quibble over whether it's a useful thing to say -- I lean toward "not very", but I also think it was kind of amusing. In a pedantic sort of way.
posted by lodurr at 10:07 AM on October 22, 2007


@ DU "Business-friendly" == "human-unfriendly"

What a stupid comment!

Look HERE

The most business friendly countries:
Hong Kong 1
Singapore 2
Australia 3
United States 4
New Zealand 5
United Kingdom 6
Ireland 7
Luxembourg 8
Switzerland 9
Canada 10

The least:

 Chad
 Guinea Bissau
 Angola
 Iran
 Congo, Republic of
 Turkmenistan
 Burma
 Zimbabwe
 Libya
 Cuba
 Korea, North
posted by yoyo_nyc at 10:16 AM on October 22, 2007


Yeah, I'll have to say the whole "US embroiled in a civil war" thing threw me off too. For a second, I thought it was just hyperbole about class warfare or something. Eventually I got it after trying to make a square peg fit into a round whole for a while. But it seems that business friendliness (at least in the way the article seems to say) has nothing to do with imperialism. A civil war raging within the country you're talking about, that might affect it or be an effect.

*shrugs* I do believe you can be both business friendly and human friendly.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 10:17 AM on October 22, 2007


Is this just the day for people taking over threads with dickery?
posted by Artw at 11:01 AM on October 22, 2007


business friendly == human un-friendly is a massive oversimplification, for sure. It is certainly possible to be business friendly and human friendly. Viz microcredit.

What's hard is to be simultaneously capitalism friendly and human friendly.

The thing is, human-friendliness and capitalism-friendliness are not precisely contradictory, but capitalism can flourish just fine when people are pretty darn unhappy. And I would argue that it actually does best when people are distinctly unsettled and agitated -- that's when they're most easily led into consumptive behavior as a means to assuage anxiety.
posted by lodurr at 11:02 AM on October 22, 2007


Come on, we can take it back, artw.
posted by lodurr at 11:02 AM on October 22, 2007


Rights cost money. Only (comparatively) wealthy nations have reliable unemployment insurance, welfare, education, health care, etc.

Countries become wealthy through business activity. (Or through being located atop oil reserves, which gives rise to a whole 'nother series of pathologies. See Arabia, Saudi). Being business friendly (which should not, and does not, mean "corporatism") is good for everyone.

Obviously there are a million legitimate criticisms of what businesses do in the first world. But that doesn't mean that it's smart for DU to cheer for corrupt, third world autocracies that keep their people impoverished.

Seriously, would you rather be born in Taiwan in 1960, or today? In Singapore today, or in Iran, Turkmenistan, Zimbabwe, or Cuba? Despite all the misfortunes and unfairnesses, life in business-friendly countries is better for the vast bulk of people than is life in unfree countries.
posted by ibmcginty at 12:09 PM on October 22, 2007


Really? Citation plz. Kthx.

The Iraq war is a Civil war, of which we are a participant. It's not that complicated. here is a citation.
posted by delmoi at 12:45 PM on October 22, 2007


Anyway, the point is that many of the "bad" things you get in business-unfriendly environments also affect the US to a greater extent then nations who are slightly less business friendly.

There is probably a balancing point, too far one way and you can't create wealth, too far the other way and wealth just gets concentrated into the hands of the few, or you have so little regulation that bad things end up happening.

I remember one guy complaining that he couldn't start his own salsa company in his kitchen. The law required a certain type of industrial kitchen, and that guy thought that was unfair. But health and safety regulations are among the most important. Without them, people get sick. But there existance can seem "business unfriendly" when you only look at it as a "what do I want to do?" problem and not a "what does the guy sending out penis enlargement spam want to do?" kind of way.
posted by delmoi at 1:06 PM on October 22, 2007


Christ, what a shitty thread.

Try harder next time, people.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:30 PM on October 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I hear that New Zealand is a hell-hole of human misery.

Infant mortality is 50%, Average life expectancy 18 years of age, deforestation 98%, serious pollution problems.. it's just really well marketed, and we rush ahead and clean up the country ahead of the tourists and make sure they only meet nice people.

seriously though, I imagine ACC is a significant contributing factor to our ranking - meaning that if one of your workers gets injured in an accident, provided it's not your fault, the government will foot the bill while they recover. (Public health care too. yay!)

The government also set up a whole lot of business mentoring type stuff, and innovation is seen as a bit of a "local virtue" so anyone with a good idea is suitably encouraged. Sometimes I wonder if we're a little too-friendly to business.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 4:15 PM on October 22, 2007


New Zealanders love any kind of international assessment system in which the country ranks highly. There'll be a local boastful report about this within the week.
posted by Paragon at 4:34 PM on October 22, 2007


50% infant mortality!? Holy shit. Could you expand on that?
posted by lodurr at 5:22 PM on October 22, 2007


There are few things less useful than complaining about how shitty a thread is -- especially after it's started to turn positive.
posted by lodurr at 5:23 PM on October 22, 2007


oh yes, this'll be on the 6'o clock news on every channel, i'd bet on it.

infant mortality? oh, it's not usually that high. it's just we had a few outbreaks of ovis-spongiform-flesheatem (or "sheep rabies") that it turns out were transmissible through wool baby clothes. I'm sure once it dies down, in a year or two, it'll be back to 25% or so like it was in early 2000.

living here for so long, you forget how strange rabid sheep or LOTR cultists enacting mafia style hits on businessmen who failed to pay their protection racket.

i can keep going, you know, but there's a restriction on publishing information that might be considered harmful for NZ's image, and I don't want to risk ten years in prison for idle internet chatter.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 5:41 PM on October 22, 2007 [2 favorites]


Damnable Kiwi humour.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:57 PM on October 22, 2007 [1 favorite]


Holy shit redux.

Perversely enough, now I want to go there even more.
posted by lodurr at 5:34 AM on October 23, 2007


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