While serious institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank actually attempt to grapple with the real-world consequences of neoliberalism, the Davos, Switzerland-based "World Economic Forum", funded by the world's biggest companies (including many of the world's biggest tax dodgers), continues its work as the global propaganda arm of free-market economics. Its annual "Global Competitiveness Index" is one of the primary mechanisms for promoting corporate tax cuts and labour market deregulation around the world: WEF issues its index, and gullible journalists and clever employer groups like the Australian Industry Group either use the results to deplore the loss of competitiveness of their country and urge more reforms, or welcome the results as a demonstration of the benefits of undertaking reform, and urge more of it.

As Crikey has long been pointing out, the index, which is based on a survey of a few dozen business executives in each country, is laughably unrigorous and reflects exactly the kind of biases you'd expect if you asked some execs what they thought over a few wines in an airport lounge. And so it is with this year's index, released overnight, showing Switzerland yet again the world's most competitive country (because the WEF is Swiss, the Swiss must always come first).