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Cover of the2021 Index of Economic Freedom

Despite Hong Kong Debate, Heritage’s 2021 Index of Economic Freedom Shows Free Markets Work

The explanation for the exclusion of Hong Kong was that the country no longer fitted the criteria to be scored by Heritage’s experts.

For the past 27 years, The Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom (IEF) has tracked global economies and free trade, ultimately influencing global leaders, and generating crucial research on the dangers of socialism and other leftist economic ideologies.

The 2021 Index, like those of previous years, clearly indicates that free trade brings prosperity to civilians and countries. The media, however, has expectedly focused on Heritage’s exclusion of Hong Kong.

Heritage’s Center for International Trade and Economics is headed by the distinguished Terry Miller, a former UN ambassador and U.S. representative of the UN’s Economic and Social Council. Other key members of CITE are Research Fellow James M. Roberts, Research Manager and Editor Anthony B. Kim, and researcher Patrick Tyrrell.

Cover of the2021 Index of Economic Freedom
Hong Kong was not included in the 2021 Index of Economic Freedom

Heritage’s decision to remove Hong Kong from its latest Index has caused much buzz among news outlets. CNN’s Michelle Toh wrote that Hong Kong “used to be the poster child for economic freedom. Not anymore.” Reuters’ Clare Jim wrote an article exclusively focusing on Heritage’s exclusion of Hong Kong. Similarly, two Financial Times writers dramatically proclaimed that Heritage dropped the country from index “after crackdown.”

The explanation for the exclusion of Hong Kong was that the country no longer fitted the criteria to be scored by Heritage’s experts. Macau was also excluded. The move was quickly celebrated by the People’s Republic of China, which has, in recent years, attempted to control political dissent in Hong Kong.

In a statement to El American, Heritage’s Patrick Tyrrell said there were discussions about potentially legitimizing China’s power over Hong Kong.

“There was some debate about it,” Tyrrell said. “Hong Kong was number one in the Index of Economic Freedom for the first 25 years of the index. Last year, they slipped to number two and Singapore was number one, and this year we had to drop them […] because they didn’t fit our criteria as independent countries anymore, unfortunately.”

Hong Kong, unlike the U.S., had received high rankings by Heritage in the past years, topping the list in 2019.

The Index of Economic Freedom and COVID-19

The Heritage Foundation has been a beacon for freedom both nationally and internationally and its Index covers 184 countries, their property rights, the standard of living, government size, rule of law, among others. The think tank is known by many to be the largest and most influential conservative organization in the nation.

While I am certain that Heritage appreciates the media coverage, these reports take away from the book’s main finding: Economic freedom is crucial for the success and progress of nations globally.

Heritage has recently made headlines for its efforts to secure election integrity—following the likes of Phill Kline, Director of the Amistad Project, who has worked on election integrity for several years now—and for the resignations of its president and VP, Kay C. James and Dr. Kim Holmes.

The COVID-19 pandemic did not impede Heritage’s experts from conducting data analysis. The World Bank, for instance, did not release much of its data in 2020, but Tyrrell said they used materials from other sources that were consistent with their standard for the Index of Economic Freedom.

The U.S., which dropped numerous spots, is expected to decrease in the upcoming years, Tyrrell told El American, primarily because the Biden administration continues to propose massive bills that will ultimately increase the national debt.

“The Biden administration with the modern monetary theorists believe you can just spend any amount of money and it doesn’t matter because of the U.S. is reserved currency, but they must think that Jerome Powell controls interest rates but he doesn’t. Actually, the people who buy the U.S. debt are in control of interest rates […] Biden’s spending is going to hurt economic freedom.”

One important fact that the 2021 Index of Economic Freedom shows is that economic freedom will be more than important ever as global economies continue to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. We commend Heritage’s relentless push for conservative principles that generate solutions that secure freedom around the globe and for individuals to make their own financial decisions.

The latest edition of the Index of Economic Freedom was released on March 6 by Heritage’s prominent Center for International Trade and Economics (CITE).

To read more about Heritage’s Center for International Trade and Economics and the 2021 Index of Economic Freedom head to https://www.heritage.org/index/

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