RELOOKING COMPETITIVENESS – 2
Variations exist, but broadly competitiveness is a non-dimensional ratio of output to input. Thus it talks of efficiency as the norm; higher the efficiency, more the competitiveness. A nation that can produce more with less inputs is the winner. Assumption is the ‘wastage’ prone economies are retro. Nimbleness and agility are the virtues to be emulated.
In a practical world, we also are guided by size, often we come across the concept, “Size too matters”. This is contrarian to the thought, “don’t look at the size of the dog, look at the fight in the dog”. Let us examine this divide.
Everyone is cognizant of the low base effect, a smaller economy like India yielding an 8% growth is, today at least, frail vis-à-vis US economy growing at 1+ percent. Sheer size helps you clobber a tough adversary, Bruce Lee movies notwithstanding. Sure, sheer size may make one a slow blob of fat and inertia; but size cannot and should not be discounted totally. On a per thousand basis, Sweden may show high on many metrics, but can it sustain the heat of a face-off with a Russia or a China? Size of country, magnitude of GDP, quantum of trade are very material elements in computing prosperity of a people. The unison they have brings a different strength to the table.
Further, the growth rates are indicative of what shall happen tomorrow: in this light India’s growth quoted above, or China’s 11-12% emerge as aspects of performance that need to be weighted. Mere velocity is not the complete picture, the acceleration too is significant in evaluation motion dynamics.
It is proposed that competitiveness, as it stands defined today, should bring in size and growth rates as explicit and equal parts of the trifurcated canvas: efficiency, quantum and variation rate. This way maybe statistics would be a lie closer to truth. It shall be interesting to look at competitiveness ranks of top 20 countries.