Friday, September 07, 2012

WEF dressing political polling as “research”

I won’t try to re-critique Bernard Keane’s excellent work at Crikey ( but registration required) pulling apart the “thick, thick, thicket-thick from Thicksville, Thickania” report from the World Economic Forum.

Instead, a question: why, in spite of the report’s glaring flaws of methodology, does anyone take it seriously?

The obvious lacunae in the report – praise for the governmental and judicial institutions in the corruption-ridden, violent, misogynist and theocratic oil states stands out as WTF moments – are blithely skipped over by politicians with a point to score.

The entire report is nothing more than a gathering of “feelpinions” from people who treat the whole thing as a local political poll.

Here’s some gems for you to mull over.
  • Oman has better public institutions than Australia, according to the WEF.
  • China has better infrastructure than Australia.
  • Trinidad has a better macroeconomic environment than Australia.
  • Cyprus beats Australia in health and education.
  • Qatar has more efficient markets than Australia.
  • Mongolia has a more efficient labour market than Australia.
  • Qatar beats Australia in innovation.
What a joke.

As I said, the report is no more than a gathering of political feelpinions from people whose entire interest stands or falls on their willingness to support whatever status quo they find themselves in.

The only appropriate response to the WEF’s report is to laugh and point. But because it’s the WEF, and the world’s entire cohort of business journalists – that is, stenographers of corporate announcements and worshipful acolytes of a ten-thousand-dollar suit – should be laughing. But they won’t: the number of business journalists in any country who aren’t either doe-eyed worshippers or advertorial captives could be counted without anyone pulling down their trousers to get to “twenty-one”.

So they’ll treat the WEF report as if it were serious research.

You’d be better trusting your weight to the anus-auctioneers of the international ratings agencies than giving any credence whatever to the WEF’s “competitiveness report”.

To finish with a citation from Crikey: “Too bad the data isn’t worth the pixels it’s displayed on.”

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