Just in time for tonight’s GOP presidential debate, a consortium of think tanks from nearly 90 countries has released its annual Economic Freedom of the World Report. The report has some good news for much of mankind — economic liberty increased slightly around the globe — but not such good news for the United States, which continues to tumble in the rankings.

As recently as 2000, the United States had the second-freest economy in the world, trailing only Hong Kong. But throughout the Bush and Obama years, we have slipped further and further behind. Last year, we fell out of the top 10, ranking just 12th overall. And this year, we have fallen all the way to 16th. We now squeeze in between 15th-ranked Taiwan and number 17, Romania. Isn’t that wonderful? We are freer than Romania!
Among the countries we are not freer than are some that you might expect, like Hong Kong, Singapore, Switzerland, and Chile, but also some that we don’t normally associate with free markets, like the United Arab Emirates, Mauritius, Jordan, Georgia, and Qatar. The other countries scoring better than the U.S. were New Zealand, Ireland, Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia. The criteria included such items as the size of government, rule of law and property rights, soundness of the money supply, regulation, and free trade.