* Report analyses 60 countries, Nigeria comes last
* United States, UK in second and third place
* Report says Western centres too focused on the s-term
ZURICH, Dec 13 Hong Kong has muscled its
way to the top of the World Economic Forum's Financial Stability
Index, overtaking the United States and the United Kingdom for
the first time, according to a report published on Tuesday.
The United States slipped to second place in the ranking of
the world's leading financial systems and capital markets,
although its overall score was unchanged from last year.
The United Kingdom fell to third place due to lower scores
on securitisation and IPO activity, the Financial Development
The report, launched in 2008, analyses financial development
including the efficiency and size of banking and other financial
services, the business environment, financial stability, and the
extent of financial disclosure and market liberalisation in each
Hong Kong, which jumped from fourth place last year, has
capitalised on a regulatory crackdown on the finance sector in
the United States and Europe and on its proximity to China to
lure more financial services to its shores.
"Hong Kong's ascent to the top of our index marks a major
milestone, the first time in the report's history that the
United Kingdom or the U.S. didn't come out on top," said Kevin
Steinberg, chief operating officer of the World Economic Forum
"While Western financial centres are understandably focused
on short-term challenges, this report should serve as a wake-up
call that their long-term leadership may be in jeopardy," he
Singapore was ranked fourth, followed by Australia, Canada,
the Netherlands and Japan respectively. Nigeria was bottom of
the list with Venezuela not far behind.
China rose three places from last year to 19th whereas euro
zone countries slipped in the rankings as they struggled to
contain their debt crisis, including Germany which dropped one
place to 14th.
More than 90 percent of countries have not returned to
pre-crisis levels in terms of ease of access to credit and
loans, venture capital availability and financing through local
equity markets, according to the latest report.
"The challenge will be how to encourage economic activity
while not fuelling the next credit bubble, which could cause
severe consequences down the line," said Isabella Reuttner,
senior project manager at the World Economic Forum and editor of
"Therefore, when looking for possible solutions,
decision-makers should not lose sight of the long-term
consequences while they fix the short-term situation."
The Financial Development Report ranks 60
countries, analysing drivers of financial system and capital
market development that support economic growth.
The World Economic Forum said the index aimed to serve as a
tool for advanced and emerging economies to benchmark themselves
and identify areas for reform.
(Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Susan Fenton)