December 14th, 2011
05:04 AM GMT
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HONG KONG (CNN) - Hong Kong has leapfrogged the United States and the United Kingdom to take top spot in the World Economic Forum’s 2011 index of financial market development - the first Asian financial center to do so.

According to the forum’s fourth annual Financial Development Report, Hong Kong’s position was bolstered by strong scores in non-banking financial services such as IPO activity - the first public sale of stock by a company - and insurance.

The report ranks 60 of the word’s leading financial systems according to more than 100 variables, from access to different forms of capital and financial services, to financial stability, regulation and the availability of skilled workers.

Hong Kong jumped from fourth place in the index, amid concerns over financial stability in the U.S., and lower scores in the UK on IPO activity and securitization - which is the process in which certain types of assets, such as mortgages, are pooled so that they can be repackaged into bond-like securities.

Belgium was the only country to drop out of a largely unchanged top 10, with Norway the beneficiary.

Top 10

1. Hong Kong
2. United States
3. United Kingdom
4. Singapore
5. Australia
6. Canada
7. Netherlands
8. Japan
9. Switzerland
10. Norway

China (19th) joins Malaysia (16th) as the second of only two emerging economies within the top 20.

"Hong Kong's ascent to the top of our index marks a major milestone, the first time in the report's history that the United Kingdom or the US didn't come out on top," Kevin Steinberg, chief operating officer of World Economic Forum USA, said in a statement accompanying the report.

"While Western financial centers are understandably focused on short-term challenges, this report should serve as a wake-up call that their long-term leadership may be in jeopardy," he added.

The report added that more than 90% of countries have not returned to pre-financial crisis levels in terms of access to capital.

"The need to make different forms of capital available will be essential for future growth and recovery," said Isabella Reuttner, editor of the report, in quotes carried by Agence France-Presse.

"The challenge will be how to encourage economic activity while not fueling the next credit bubble, which could cause severe consequences down the line."

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Filed under: AsiaBusiness

soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Henk

    Go Holland! You are in the top of just about any high development list their is. Top Internet speeds, low crime rates, top innovation climate, free open business, best English speaking nations of mainland Europe, Largest port of Europe and among the largest on the planet, etc..etc..You rock! Long live the Netherlands! Yes, You know i`m Dutch!

    December 14, 2011 at 6:33 am |
  2. Ken

    Banking is largely based on debt. Capitalism is based on constant growth. Put these two together and you will have a constantly expanding debt pool which is impossible to be repaid. Hence the system has to keep going to make it look like as if everything is ok. But each day people are getting poorer, value of money is shrinking and cost of living is rising. The capitalists are getting richer but they put the money back into the system so it can generate even more money,and the cycle continues. But it will become too big to be sustainable and it will inevitably collapse.

    December 14, 2011 at 8:01 am |
  3. Shinjukuboy

    Just a question. Hong Kong is 1, and China is 19. But technically, isn't Hong Kong part of China? I know it is a special administrative zone, but still...

    December 14, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  4. Jason

    @Shinjukboy: Economically, Hong Kong is a separate country.

    December 14, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
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