British banks rated less sound than Botswana’s

Business leaders in Britain rated UK banks a mere 44th in the world for solvency, well behind countries in Africa and Latin America including Senegal, Botswana, El Salvador – and even behind Iceland, whose three main banks have all been taken into national ownership after collapsing into financial turmoil this week.

The United States was rated 40th in the survey of executives around the world on the relative health of their national economies.

Top of the league in the executive opinion survey came banks in Canada, which were awarded a rating of 6.8 out of 7 by Canadian businesspeople. Under the scoring system, 7 is taken to represent banks that are generally healthy with sound balance sheets, and 1 is when banks are felt to be insolvent and in need of a government bailout.

Sweden, Luxembourg, Australia, Denmark and the Netherlands came just behind Canada, on 6.7. Iceland was rated 6.2. The US was rated at 6.1 and the UK 6.0, placing both about a third of the way down the table of 134 countries.

The opinion survey was carried out before recent seismic upheavals in the global financial system, including the UK’s £500 billion rescue scheme for its banks, the international 0.5 per cent cut to interest rates, both announced yesterday, and the US’s proposed $700 billion bank bailout, agreed last Friday.

It does not take into account the dramatic events in Reyjavik in the last week, where the three main banks – Glitnir, Landsbanki and Kaupthing – have all been taken over by the Icelandic authorities.

Algerian banks came bottom of the league table, with a rating of just 3.9. Perhaps surprisingly, Zimbabwean banks came in 122nd with 4.5, above more generally solvent and stable countries as Argentina (129th, on 4.2) and Libya (133rd, with 4.0).

China’s banks came a dismal 108th with a score of 4.9, and Japan’s were rated 93rd, with 5.1, by business people in their respective countries.

The executive opinions on banks was a small section of a general report, which combined opinion surveys with economic data to rank the relative global competitiveness of entire countries. In the report’s overall ratings, the US came top, followed by Denmark, Sweden and Singapore.

“Despite the financial crisis, the United States continues to be the most competitive economy in the world,” the WEF said in its report, out yesterday.

“This is because it is endowed with many structural features that make its economy extremely productive and place it on a strong footing to ride out business cycle shifts and economic shocks.”

Britain had slipped out of the top 10, however, a development which the report said was “mainly attributable to a weakening of its financial markets”.

RANKINGS

1. Canada

2. Sweden

3. Luxembourg

4. Australia

5. Denmark

6. Netherlands

7. Belgium

8. New Zealand

9. Ireland

10. Malta

11. Hong Kong

12. Finland

13. Singapore

14. Norway

15. South Africa

16. Switzerland

17. Namibia

18. Chile

19. France

20. Spain

21. Barbados

22. Bahrain

23. Slovak Republic

24. Brazil

25. Estonia

26. Austria

27. Panama

28. Mauritius

29. Kuwait

30. Qatar

31. United Arab Emirates

32. Trinidad and Tobago

33. Senegal

34. Israel

35. Portugal

36. Iceland

37. Cyprus

38. Botswana

39. Germany

40. United States

41. Lithuania

42. Peru

43. El Salvador

44. United Kingdom

45. Greece

46. Benin

47. Costa Rica

48. Malawi

49. Guyana

50. Malaysia

51. India

52. Puerto Rico

53. The Gambia

54. Montenegro

55. Mexico

56. Croatia

57. Czech Republic

58. Jordan

59. Ghana

60. Suriname

61. Brunei Darussalam

62. Latvia

63. Saudi Arabia

64. Kenya

65. Jamaica

66. Honduras

67. Zambia

68. Burkina Faso

69. Slovenia

70. Sri Lanka

71. Pakistan

72. Philippines

73. Republic of Korea

74. Romania

75. Thailand

76. Madagascar

77. Colombia

78. Cote d’Ivoire

79. Italy

80. Bulgaria

81. Hungary

82. Cameroon

83. Georgia

84. Oman

85. Tunisia

86. Paraguay

87. Nigeria

88. Armenia

89. Morocco

90. Dominican Republic

91. Bolivia

92. Malia

93. Japan

94. Tanzania

95. Moldova

96. Bosnia and Herzegovina

97. Poland

98. Nicaragua

99. Venezuela

100. Uruguay

101. Guatemala

102. FYR Macedonia

103. Syria

104. Albania

105. Nepal

106. Mozambique

107. Russian Federation

108. China

109. Uganda

110. Serbia

111. Egypt

112. Ukraine

113. Vietnam

114. Turkey

115. Bangladesh

116. Azerbaijan

117. Taiwan, China

118. Ecuador

119. Mauritania

120. Mongolia

121. Indonesia

122. Zimbabwe

123. Tajikistan

124. Kazakhstan

125. Cambodia

126. Burundi

127. Chad

128. Ethiopia

129. Argentina

130. East Timor

131. Kyrgyz Republic

132. Lesotho

133. Libya

134. Algeria

Jenny Booth
October 9, 2008

Source: Times Online

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