The World Bank has taken an interest in how a country directs business growth by the structures in place to create a business. A somewhat anecdotal study was done by Hernando de Soto, a Peruvian economist, who commissioned a team to go through the motions of setting up a company on the outskirts of Lima, Peru. Unbeknownst to those on the regulatory side, de Soto set out to prove a point, that creating a business in Peru was painstakingly difficult.
To jump through all the hoops and hurdles, it took the fictitious business some 289 days to open its doors. The last time we created an LLC in Florida it took about 20 minutes. Granted, that is not the only metric used by de Soto and now the World Bank. The de Soto study pushed the World Bank to do its own research into what it takes around the globe to get a business started.
Each year a survey is conducted by experts to determine how easy it would be for a company to obtain an electricity connection, transfer the title of a warehouse, enforce a debt contract, pay its taxes and so on. Based on the answers, the bank then ranks countries, from New Zealand at the top to Somalia at the bottom. Metrics include the following.
The World Bank study is relatively qualitative and overlooks important macroeconomic measures, such as s infrastructure, price stability, workforce skills and the reliability of suppliers, among other things.
This novel World Bank service comes at little cost to the bank itself. Costing less than 0.25% of the bank’s operating budget, it has caught the attention of some of the world’s most powerful nations. Countries like India, Pakistan and China are all seeking to increase their ranking in the World Bank Ease of Doing Business index.
Saudi Arabia is another example of a country in dire straits that seeks to establish itself with a higher index ranking. Once ranked tenth, it had slipped to 94th place by 2016. This year it bounced back to 62nd. It is now the cheapest (and third-easiest) place to transfer a property title to a buyer. Firms can get an electricity connection in 35 days, little more than half the time it took in 2018.
Ultimately, the core aim of regulation is the freedom to do business and in many cases it can prove inefficient with significant levels of government overreach. This was a major mandate of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. As witnessed in the chart above, countries globally are getting on board to improve their World Bank index. Regarding the U.S. and the U.K., they ranked sixth and eighth, respectively.
The Ease of Doing Business report is not intended as a complete assessment of competitiveness or of the business environment of a country and should rather be considered as a proxy of the regulatory framework faced by the private sector in a country. The World Bank by proxy is promoting capitalism globally. High taxes, regulations, and bureaucracies enamored by so many socialists will not play well in this new world order ranking system.