Wednesday, April 06, 2011

CHART: International Public Opinion on Capitalism

The chart above is from today's online version of The Economist, showing an international comparison of public opinion on the free market, with some interesting results:

1. Brazil ranks #1 for responding "strongly agree" that the free-market system is the best, and Germany ranks #1 for "strongly or somewhat agree."

2. Germany, Brazil, China and Italy are rank higher than the U.S. for the top two most favorable responses.  

3. Citizens of Germany and Italy view free-markets more favorably than the Brits, and a lot more favorably than the French.  

4. Japan ranks lowest for the most favorable response (strongly agree).

16 Comments:

At 4/06/2011 10:48 PM, Blogger BBL Jr said...

Since non of these people, Americans included, live in a freemarket capitalist system it isn't too surprising they seem a little vague. We all suffer from nanny state regulated market capitalism at best.

 
At 4/07/2011 12:54 AM, Blogger Klockarman said...

It's probably not a big surprise that France scored so low, but it still seems as bit weird since France is the country that gave us the concept of "laissez faire"!?

 
At 4/07/2011 3:03 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Forty to fifty years of shabby, sorry public education is bearing sour fruit...

 
At 4/07/2011 3:53 AM, Blogger Shane Leavy said...

Not sure what to think about Japan, however. What makes them so averse to capitalism?

 
At 4/07/2011 3:54 AM, Blogger Dr. Cool said...

The poll is meaningless since the definitions of free-market and capitalism are ideologically and culturally charged, varying from place to place.
Brazilians for example are the opposite of a self-made, entrepreneurial people, having relied historically on government rents for making a living. During the last three-decades they have *only* elected socialists and social democrats to govern them.
The French are in reality among the most economically conservative in the bunch, but politics in the country tends to associate "free-market capitalism" with "dysfunctional Anglo-Saxon economic models prone to booms and busts."
The only thing meaningful in this poll is that it confirms the death of American exceptionalism. Time to move to Switzerland.

 
At 4/07/2011 6:53 AM, Blogger Nigel Sedgwick said...

I'm with Dr Cool.

The graph is meaningless as there is inadequate definition of the term "free market": so a pot of marginally sophisticated equivocation. The use of a 2-level quantisation is below infantile in its assumptions: even rabbits (Watership Down) can count: zero, one, two, three, four, lots.

We all live in mixed economies. The question is how much of the economy should be controlled by the state (currently in the UK somewhere towards the top of, or just over, the range between 40% and 50%, and over recent half decades around 40%). There is surely a point (perhaps 30% to 35%) which many would view as much better.

None of these levels are anywhere but 'mixed': when applied to any national economy as a whole, the term 'free market' is meaningless.

Best regards

 
At 4/07/2011 9:19 AM, Blogger Steve said...

I agree with the guys above me.

I'll bet a lot of the people who "somewhat" agree that the free-market system is best would have "somewhat" of a positive opinion regarding intrusive and economically destructive regulations into said "free"-market system.

Maybe in their eyes they can rationalize that their perfect vision still constitutes a capitalists paradise...

 
At 4/07/2011 9:34 AM, Blogger Evergreen Libertarian said...

I thought I was going to be alone on this one, but I see there are others who might agree with me. What free market and where? Can't enter the taxi market in many cities, welfare for the bankers, and licensing laws for just about everything.

 
At 4/07/2011 10:35 AM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

Here is the statement, from GlobalScan, that citizens of the world were asked how strongly they agreed with:

" The free market system and free market economy is the best system on which to base the future of the world."

Some of the surprising results from U.S. respondents were:

"Americans with incomes below $20,000 were particularly likely to have lost faith in the free market over the past year, with their support dropping from 76 per cent to 44 per cent between 2009 and 2010. American women have also become much less positive, with 52 per cent backing the free market in 2010, down from 73 per cent in 2009."

I wonder if the term Free Trade has a bad connotation for a lot Americans. It might be possible that Free Trade and Free Markets are synonomous for many in the U.S. Free Market sentiments might be taking a hit because of huge trade deficits, with countries that don't have Free Trade agreements with the U.S.; which would be ironoic and yet another argument against unilateral Free Trade by the U.S.

 
At 4/07/2011 10:39 AM, Blogger NormanB said...

A dissident in Cuba (I've forgotten his name) says that Socialism is what you have between Capitalism and Capitalism.

 
At 4/07/2011 1:10 PM, Blogger juandos said...

"The poll is meaningless since the definitions of free-market and capitalism are ideologically and culturally charged, varying from place to place"...

Hmmm, that's as good an explanation of today's Democrats as I've heard lately...

BTW that sounds like a George Lakoff inspired line there Dr. Cool...

 
At 4/07/2011 3:57 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

"Americans with incomes below $20,000 were particularly likely to have lost faith in the free market over the past year, with their support dropping from 76 per cent to 44 per cent between 2009 and 2010."

That shouldn't be surprising, as we have been told ad nauseum by politicians of every stripe, that unbridled capitalism, free market failures and deregulation have caused the economic woes we now suffer. These are pathetic attempts to deflect blame from themselves, and the destructive policies they have promoted and enacted.

Those who haven't succeeded as well at improving their own standards of living and well being, are only too eager to believe this nonsense, and thereby deflect responsibility for their less fortunate condition from themselves, to a system they are hearing has failed them.

 
At 4/07/2011 4:02 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Buddy

"It might be possible that Free Trade and Free Markets are synonomous for many in the U.S."

Yes, I tend to consider them pretty much the same, and often use the terms interchangeably. How do you use them differently?

 
At 4/07/2011 4:15 PM, Blogger AIG said...

The under $20k issue may not be so significant, as I'd bet a majority of those people are under 25, and you can't really expect a different answer.

Nevertheless I don't think the "conclusion" drawn by the pollsters is really supported by the data, even if it is subjective and culture-dependent what "free markets" mean.

The US has the highest "strongly agree" responses (except Brasil). 37% strongly agreeing with markets is a very good sign. It also has the lowest "strongly disagree" responses from any western nation and any developed nation. The only lower are the ones who have experienced communism/command economies first hand (Russia, China, India) Thats also very positive.

You're always going to have 20-30% of the population being clueless sheep or out of sync with the rest. And 2009-2010 were the years of recession fatigue and polarization on specifically this issue.

 
At 4/07/2011 4:22 PM, Blogger Buddy R Pacifico said...

Ron H, Free Trade is between two or more countries that have agreed to and abide by reciprocal open markets.

Thus, an open market country can still have trade relations with a mercantilist country but, this is not Free Trade.

Free Markets and Free Trade can happen and with great benefits for citizens. This has not been the circumstance for the U.S. in its trade relations with China. To put the label of Free Trade on this trading relationship is to taint the term Free Markets.

 
At 4/07/2011 9:34 PM, Blogger Ron H. said...

Buddy

"Ron H, Free Trade is between two or more countries that have agreed to and abide by reciprocal open markets."

As countries don't engage in trade, I prefer a simpler definition: free trade is two parties engaging in voluntary transactions without interference.

Governments should have no part in this. Most so called free trade agreements between countries include restrictions of some sort that make it a real stretch to call what transpires free trade.

"Thus, an open market country can still have trade relations with a mercantilist country but, this is not Free Trade."

You are technically correct by the strictest definition, but it makes no difference to me.

If I voluntarily exchange something with someone from China, as far as I am concerned, I have engaged in free trade. It doesn't matter what the view is from the other end, every indication to me is that it's free trade.

While the transaction may not be as beneficial to my counterparty as it is to me, I can't see that difference.

How am I or my country harmed by this arrangement?

 

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