Greece rose four places in the global economic freedom chart in 2019, but was still just in 78th position among 165 countries, according to the Fraser Institute’s Economic Freedom of the World annual report, released on Tuesday in Greece and Cyprus by the Center for Liberal Studies (KEFiM).
Among the 27 states that currently constitute the European Union, Greece was rock bottom.
Greece scored average marks of 7.15 points out of 10, ranking between Kyrgyzstan in 77th place and North Macedonia in 79th. In last year’s report, concerning 2018, Greece had ranked 82nd. Cyprus, on the other hand, occupied a particularly high spot, at 24th.
Most notably, Greece remains one of the 20 countries in the world with the biggest public sector, as it ranked a miserable 146th in size of government (still five places better off than in 2018).
It was 142nd in labor market regulations, 86th in regulation and 79th in business regulations. The country’s relatively strong point in 2019 was credit market regulations, where it ranked 22nd. It was also 56th in legal system and property rights, 57th in freedom to trade internationally, and 67th in sound money, thanks to its eurozone membership.
Greece’s low point was the year 2015, when it ranked 96th, with its size-of-government index at just 4.34 points; this score rose in 2019 to 5.41. In contrast, Greece scored a perfect 10 in credit market regulations in 2019 concerning the ownership of banks and private sector credit.
“Wealth is primarily generated in one way – i.e. the efficient distribution of resources. This requires transactions in open, competitive markets operating within an institutional framework that guarantees the principles of justice and favors economic growth,” argues KEFiM’s research director Aristides Hatzis.
“Greece remains the country with the most closed economy in the EU, having an inefficient institutional framework. Despite the bold reforms in recent years, we remain last in the EU because our competitors are opening up their own markets faster and improving their institutions. Unless that changes, we should not harbor any high expectations for the future,” warns Hatzis.
Top of the chart in this year’s report are Hong Kong and Singapore, followed by New Zealand, Switzerland and the former Soviet republic of Georgia.