Now, this is change you can believe in.
When Barack Obama was running for the presidency in 2008, he promised a “hope and change” for America that millions of voters mistakenly thought was going to be for the better.
A year-and-a-half after Donald Trump was sworn into office, the United States is seeing a different kind of change, and it makes the country look good.
According to IMD, an international business school based in Switzerland, the United States has returned to its top position in world competitiveness rankings after earning only a fourth place finish last year.
Being No. 1 always looks good, but it looks especially good considering that under the Obama administration, the country fell to as low as seventh place in a different set of rankings in 2012-13, according to the World Economic Forum.
That’s truly dismal for a country with the natural resources and educated work force of the United States, not to mention a system of government dedicated to protecting property rights and the rule of law.
From the low point of the end of Obama’s first term in office, according to the World Economic Forum, the U.S. moved to fifth place in the 2013-14 rankings, then got back to third for the remainder of Obama’s time in office.
For Trump’s first year in office, the WEF marked the United States as coming in second, behind Switzerland.
Now, this isn’t an apples-to-apples comparison because the two organizations’ rankings don’t correlate with each other.
The IMD ranking for the United States in 2012 put the country at No. 1, for instance, but that came with a very important caveat.
“Executives panned the U.S. tax code, and ‘competency of government’ ranked very low on a list of factors that are important to business,” IMD reported in May 2013.
So why did the United States move from No. 4 last year to No. 1 this year, according to IMD?
In a news release with this year’s IMD report, Arturo Bris, director of the World IMD Competitive Center, said countries take different paths to high performance.
“Countries at the top of the rankings share an above-the-average performance across all competitiveness factors, but their competitiveness mix varies,” he said.
“One economy, for example, may build its competitiveness strategy around a particular aspect such as its tangible and intangible infrastructure; another may approach competitiveness through their governmental efficiency.”
Trump’s administration, of course, is putting stress on making the government more friendly to businesses.
The Republican tax reform of 2017 and Trump’s emphasis on deregulation has made the United States more attractive to foreign investment, as European CEOs said during the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in January.
The IMD rankings and the World Economic Forum rankings might be different, but both are showing the U.S. on an improving grade compared to other countries, with higher ranking competitiveness than last year.
And that’s the kind of change Trump supporters were looking for.