Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Nordic European Nations Outpace United States In Economic Competitiveness And Classical Music Culture

"U.S. economic competitiveness fell significantly over the last year, as high budget and trade deficits hurt America's business environment, according to a survey released Tuesday by the World Economic Forum.

The disappointing response to Hurricane Katrina, government corruption and a decreasing talent pool for employment due to immigration restrictions were other factors cited by the forum, which moved the United States to sixth in its ''global competitiveness index'' from the top spot a year ago.

''While strengths in the technological and market efficiency sectors explain the country's overall high rank, the U.S. economy suffers from striking weaknesses,'' the report said. ''There is significant risk to both the country's overall competitiveness and, given the relative size of the U.S., the future of the global economy.''

Switzerland topped the poll, which was conducted for the 27th consecutive year, but only the second year using a new formula, the forum said.

Over 11,000 business leaders in 125 countries took part in the survey, which found that the Alpine nation's institutional environment, infrastructure, efficient markets and high levels of innovation made it the world's most competitive business environment. It ranked fourth a year ago.

''The country has a well developed infrastructure for scientific research, companies spend generously on (research and development), intellectual property protection is strong and the country's public institutions are transparent and stable,'' the forum said.

Nordic countries -- traditionally strong in the survey -- took the next three places, with Finland, Sweden and Denmark all praised for running budget surpluses and having low levels of public debt. The forum also lauded the high quality of education and social services in these countries. Singapore was fifth ahead of the United States.

Rounding out the top 10 were Japan, Germany, Netherlands and Britain." ...

Associated Press "Survey Says U.S. Down in Competitiveness" New York Times September 26, 2006


World Economic Forum

The great twentieth century composer Dmitri Shostakovich, who was born exactly one hundred years ago, September 25, 1906, in (Saint) Petersburg, Russia. In recent years, Shostakovich has come to be regarded as equal to, if not greater than, Igor Stravinsky; who was widely considered the greatest twentieth century composer due to his stylistic diversity. While Shostakovich was much less stylistically diverse than was Stravinsky, he was perhaps more deeply humanist due in large part to his cycles of symphonies and string quartets, and his late song cycles and Symphony #13, Babi Yar, commemorating the Nazi massacre of Jews in Kyiv, Ukraine during the Nazi march toward the huge oil fields of the Caspian basin and its brutal occupation of Eastern Europe. [The Nazi Conquest of Europe was stopped, at the Battle of Stalingrad, by the Soviets aided, somewhat, by the Western Allies.]

The United States, through its taxpayer supported Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) noted Shostakovich's birth anniversary last night by broadcasting a two-hour documentary on the life of Austrian-born Marie Antoinette, who was Louis XVI's wife and France's failed Queen at the end of the 18th century. Tonight, PBS again celebrates the 250th Anniversary of the birth of Wolgang Amadeus Mozart with a concert from Salzburg, Austria.

Featuring some of Mozart's most memorable music from Cosi fan tutte, Don Giovanni, and other classic works, the concert will include performances from several leading young stars in opera, including Magdalena Kozena, Patricia Petibon, Anna Netrebko, Rene Pape, Michael Schade, Ekaterina Siurina, and Thomas Hampson. The concert will be conducted by the 29-year old Daniel Harding.

Semyon Aranovich's and Aleksandr Sokurov's documentary DMITRI SHOSTAKOVICH: SONATA FOR VIOLA (1981).

Photo credit: Archival photo via Wikipedia. With thanks.


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