Ranked: The 20 Easiest Countries for Doing Business
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Ranked: The 20 Easiest Countries for Doing Business

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Ranking the Ease of Doing Business

Ranked: The 20 Easiest Countries for Doing Business

Contrary to popular belief, the hardest part about running a business may not be finding customers, it’s getting one started.

Depending on the public policies and application processes of your country, you might struggle or succeed in opening and operating a business.

If you live in New Zealand, for example, you can get a new enterprise up and running in half a day. If you live in Luxembourg or Argentina, however, it’s a different story─with the process sometimes taking over a year.

Today’s chart uses data from the World Bank’s annual Doing Business 2020 report, which delves into the ease of doing business in countries around the world.

Measuring the Ease of Doing Business

Now in its 17th year, the Doing Business (DB) report measures how easy it is for someone to start and run a company in an economy, using 12 key factors throughout a business lifecycle:

  1. Starting a business
  2. Employing workers
  3. Dealing with construction permits
  4. Getting electricity
  5. Registering property
  6. Getting credit
  7. Protecting minority investors
  8. Paying taxes
  9. Trading across borders
  10. Contracting with the government
  11. Enforcing contracts
  12. Resolving insolvency

Of the 190 countries reviewed last year, only 115 made it easier for entrepreneurs to do business.

Note to readers: this year’s DB score did not factor in Employing Workers or Contracting with the Government when ranking economies.

Top 20 Easiest Countries to Run a Business

RankCountryDB Score
#1🇳🇿 New Zealand86.8
#2🇸🇬 Singapore86.2
#3🇭🇰 Hong Kong85.3
#4🇩🇰 Denmark85.3
#5🇰🇷 South Korea84
#6🇺🇸 United States84
#7🇬🇪 Georgia83.7
#8🇬🇧 United Kingdom83.5
#9🇳🇴 Norway82.6
#10🇸🇪 Sweden82
#11🇱🇹 Lithuania81.6
#12🇲🇾 Malaysia81.5
#13🇲🇺 Mauritius81.5
#14🇦🇺 Australia81.2
#15🇹🇼 Taiwan80.9
#16🇦🇪 United Arab Emirates80.9
#17🇲🇰 North Macedonia80.7
#18🇪🇪 Estonia80.6
#19🇱🇻 Latvia80.3
#20🇫🇮 Finland80.2

In the top spot for the fourth year in a row, New Zealand only requires half a day to start a business. Singapore also stands out for having the shortest timeframe when it comes to paying business taxes and enforcing business contracts.

Only two African nations─Rwanda and Mauritius─are listed in the top 50 countries, with Mauritius being the only one to crack the top 20 list.

Latin American economies are noticeably missing from the rankings, as many countries in this region are fraught with bureaucracy and prolonged processes.

Most Improved Scores

Several developed and developing economies made significant strides in 2019 to implement reforms that opened doors for new business owners.

The Doing Business 2020 report shows that the cost of starting a business has fallen over time, particularly in developing economies.

Top 10 Most Improved Economies, 2018-2019

Top 10 most improved economies for doing business

Saudi Arabia made the greatest improvement overall, adding 7.7 points to its score.

Bahrain also made improvements over the most number of factors (9). While Jordan showed improvement in the fewest factors (3), it showed the second highest jump in DB Score.

Gains Among Low-Income Countries

The DB 2020 study also shows that developing economies are making progress: it’s now cheaper than ever before to run a business in developing economies.

However, a significant disparity still remains when we consider the difference in business costs between high-income and low-income economies.

An entrepreneur starting a company in a low-income economy will spend about 50% of per capita income (PCI) to launch a venture, whereas an entrepreneur in a high-income economy spends only 4% PCI to accomplish the same task.

Put another way, entrepreneurs located in the bottom 50 economies spend an average six times more to open a new company as those in a high-income economy.

Entrepreneurship and Economic Growth

Generally, more entrepreneurs will enter a market where they can easily conduct business─adding more value to local economies.

While the rankings clearly illustrate the link between ease of doing business and economic growth, there are still significant barriers in place that not only deter entrepreneurship but also inhibit a relatively simple strategy for growth.

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The World’s Biggest Real Estate Bubbles in 2021

According to UBS, there are nine real estate markets that are in bubble territory with prices rising to unsustainable levels.

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Ranked: The World’s Biggest Real Estate Bubbles in 2021

Identifying real estate bubbles is a tricky business. After all, even though many of us “know a bubble when we see it”, we don’t have tangible proof of a bubble until it actually bursts.

And by then, it’s too late.

The map above, based on data from the Real Estate Bubble Index by UBS, serves as an early warning system, evaluating 25 global cities and scoring them based on their bubble risk.

Reading the Signs

Bubbles are hard to distinguish in real-time as investors must judge whether a market’s pricing accurately reflects what will happen in the future. Even so, there are some signs to watch out for.

As one example, a decoupling of prices from local incomes and rents is a common red flag. As well, imbalances in the real economy, such as excessive construction activity and lending can signal a bubble in the making.

With this in mind, which global markets are exhibiting the most bubble risk?

The Geography of Real Estate Bubbles

Europe is home to a number of cities that have extreme bubble risk, with Frankfurt topping the list this year. Germany’s financial hub has seen real home prices rise by 10% per year on average since 2016—the highest rate of all cities evaluated.

housing bubble index 2021

Two Canadian cities also find themselves in bubble territory: Toronto and Vancouver. In the former, nearly 30% of purchases in 2021 went to buyers with multiple properties, showing that real estate investment is alive and well. Despite efforts to cool down these hot urban markets, Canadian markets have rebounded and continued their march upward. In fact, over the past three decades, residential home prices in Canada grew at the fastest rates in the G7.

Despite civil unrest and unease over new policies, Hong Kong still has the second highest score in this index. Meanwhile, Dubai is listed as “undervalued” and is the only city in the index with a negative score. Residential prices have trended down for the past six years and are now down nearly 40% from 2014 levels.

Note: The Real Estate Bubble Index does not currently include cities in Mainland China.

Trending Ever Upward

Overheated markets are nothing new, though the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the dynamic of real estate markets.

For years, house price appreciation in city centers was all but guaranteed as construction boomed and people were eager to live an urban lifestyle. Remote work options and office downsizing is changing the value equation for many, and as a result, housing prices in non-urban areas increased faster than in cities for the first time since the 1990s.

Even so, these changing priorities haven’t deflated the real estate market in the world’s global cities. Below are growth rates for 2021 so far, and how that compares to the last five years.

housing bubble price increases 2021

Overall, prices have been trending upward almost everywhere. All but four of the cities above—Milan, Paris, New York, and San Francisco—have had positive growth year-on-year.

Even as real estate bubbles continue to grow, there is an element of uncertainty. Debt-to-income ratios continue to rise, and lending standards, which were relaxed during the pandemic, are tightening once again. Add in the societal shifts occurring right now, and predicting the future of these markets becomes more difficult.

In the short term, we may see what UBS calls “the era of urban outperformance” come to an end.

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The World’s 100 Most Valuable Brands in 2021

COVID-19 hit the global economy hard, but some companies thrived amidst the chaos. Here are the top 100 most valuable brands of 2021.

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Most Valuable Brands 2021

The World’s Top 100 Most Valuable Brands in 2021

In 2020, the global economy experienced one of the worst declines since the Great Depression.

Yet, while the ripple effects of COVID-19 have thrown many businesses into disarray, some companies have not only managed to stay afloat amidst the chaos—they’ve thrived. Using data from Kantar BrandZ, this graphic looks at the top 100 most valuable brands of 2021.

Methodology

Each year, research group Kantar BrandZ ranks companies based on their “brand value,” which is measured by:

  1. A brand’s total financial value, which is the financial contribution that brand brings to its parent company ($ value).
  2. Multiplied by its proportional value, measured by the brands proportional impact on its parent company’s sales (% value).

The financial results are then combined with quantitative survey data, sourced from over 170,000 global consumers. The end result is a holistic look at a company’s brand equity, reputation, and ability to generate value.

The Leaderboard

The total value of 2021’s Top 100 brands grew by 42%, reaching a combined $7 trillion. At the top of the list, perhaps unsurprisingly, is Amazon, with a total brand value of $683 billion.

RankBrandBrand Value
($B USD)
CategoryBrand Value %
change from 2020
1Amazon$683.85Consumer Goods & Retail64%
2Apple$612.00 Technology74%
3Google$458.00 Media & Entertainment42%
4Microsoft$410.27 Business Solutions & Tech Providers26%
5Tencent$240.93 Media & Entertainment60%
6Facebook$226.74 Media & Entertainment54%
7Alibaba$196.91 Consumer Goods & Retail29%
8Visa$191.29 Financial Services2%
9McDonald's$154.92 Food & Beverages20%
10Mastercard$112.88 Financial Services4%
11Moutai$109.33 Food & Beverages103%
12Nvidia$104.76 Business Solutions & Tech Providersn/a
13Verizon$101.94 Telecom Providers8%
14AT&T$100.65 Telecom Providers-5%
15IBM$91.34 Business Solutions & Tech Providers9%
16Coca-Cola$87.60 Food & Beverages4%
17Nike$83.71 Consumer Goods & Retail68%
18Instagram$82.90 Media & Entertainment100%
19PayPal$80.62 Payments66%
20Adobe$78.52 Business Solutions & Tech Providersn/a
21Louis Vuitton$75.73 Consumer Goods & Retail46%
22UPS$73.02 Logistics44%
23Intel$71.94 Business Solutions & Tech Providersn/a
24Netflix$71.13 Media & Entertainment55%
25The Home Depot$70.52 Consumer Goods & Retail22%
26SAP$69.24 Business Solutions & Tech Providers20%
27Accenture$64.73 Business Solutions & Tech Providersn/a
28Oracle$60.84 Business Solutions & Tech Providersn/a
29Starbucks$60.27 Food & Beverages26%
30Walmart$59.52 Consumer Goods & Retail30%
31Xfinity$59.00 Telecom Providers26%
32Marlboro$57.01 Consumer Goods & Retail-2%
33Disney$55.22 Media & Entertainment13%
34Meituan$52.40Technology119%
35Texas Instruments$49.24Business Solutions & Tech Providersn/a
36Salesforce$48.98Business Solutions & Tech Providers61%
37Qualcomm$48.36Business Solutions & Tech Providersn/a
38Spectrum$47.28 Telecom Providers10%
39YouTube$47.10Media & Entertainment39%
40Chanel$47.05 Consumer Goods & Retail30%
41Cisco$46.82 Business Solutions & Tech Providersn/a
42Samsung$46.77 Technology44%
43Hermès$46.40Consumer Goods & Retail40%
44JD$44.52 Consumer Goods & Retail75%
45TikTok$43.52 Media & Entertainment158%
46Deutsche Telekom$43.10 Telecom Providers16%
47Tesla$42.61 Cars & Transportation275%
48L'Oréal Paris$38.31 Consumer Goods & Retail30%
49Ping An$38.05Insurance13%
50Huawei$38.02 Technology29%
51ICBC$37.77 Financial Services-1%
52Zoom$36.93 Business Solutions & Tech Providersn/a
53Intuit$35.87 Business Solutions & Tech Providersn/a
54Linkedin$35.52 Media & Entertainment19%
55Costco$35.14 Consumer Goods & Retail23%
56Gucci$33.84 Consumer Goods & Retail24%
57AMD$32.92 Business Solutions & Tech Providersn/a
58Tata Consulting Services$31.28 Business Solutions & Tech Providersn/a
59Xbox$30.40 Technology55%
60Vodafone$29.74Telecom Providers29%
61American Express$28.58 Financial Services-3%
62Wells Fargo$28.00 Financial Services-8%
63RBC$27.61 Financial Services33%
64Toyota$26.97 Cars & Transportation-5%
65Haier$26.42 Technology41%
66HDFC Bank$26.37 Financial Services27%
67Mercedes-Benz$25.84 Cars & Transportation21%
68China Mobile$25.82 Telecom Providers-25%
69Budweiser$25.55 Food & Beverages5%
70Xiaomi$24.89 Technology50%
71BMW$24.82 Cars & Transportation21%
72Dell Technologies$24.78 Business Solutions & Tech Providers36%
73LIC$24.14 Insurance38%
74J.P. Morgan$24.11 Financial Services37%
75Siemens$23.64Conglomerate69%
76Fedex$23.59 Logistics53%
77Baidu$23.36 Media & Entertainment57%
78Uber$22.41 Cars & Transportation41%
79Adidas$22.34 Consumer Goods & Retail51%
80Chase$21.83 Financial Services7%
81Pinduoduo$21.73 Consumer Goods & Retail131%
82Snapchat$21.61 Media & Entertainmentn/a
83Zara$21.38 Consumer Goods & Retail0%
84Ikea$21.02 Consumer Goods & Retail17%
85UnitedHealthCare$20.87 Insurance32%
86Lowe's$20.67 Consumer Goods & Retail51%
87AIA$20.60 Insurance16%
88NTT$20.48 Telecom Providers1%
89Autodesk$20.45 Business Solutions & Tech Providersn/a
90TD$20.21 Financial Services17%
91Orange$20.20 Telecom Providers4%
92DHL$20.14 Logistics39%
93Didi Chuxing$20.04 Cars & Transportation0%
94China Construction Bank$19.78 Financial Services-6%
95Pampers$19.62 Consumer Goods & Retail6%
96KE$19.50Consumer Goods & Retailn/a
97Commonwealth Bank$19.47 Financial Services48%
98Bank of America$19.32 Financial Services14%
99Spotify$19.28 Media & Entertainmentn/a
100Colgate$18.89 Consumer Goods & Retail8%

It’s the third consecutive year that Amazon has placed first on the list. Since last year’s ranking, the ecommerce brand has seen its value grow by 64%. Keep in mind, this accounts for all areas of Amazon’s business, including its web and subscription services.

Second on the list is Apple with a brand value of $612 billion. Apple wasn’t completely immune to the impacts of COVID-19—in the early days of the pandemic, its stock dipped almost 19% from record highs—but the company recovered and reported record-breaking revenue, generating $64.7 billion in Q4 2020.

It’s fitting that the top brands on the list are big tech companies since the pandemic pushed consumers online for both their shopping and entertainment needs. A few social media platforms placed high on the list as well, like Facebook, which rose two ranks this year to score the sixth spot with a brand value of $227 billion.

Instagram and TikTok trailed behind Facebook when it came to total brand value, but both platforms saw exceptional growth compared to last year’s report. In fact, when looking at brand value growth from 2020, both brands scored a spot in the top 10.

Insights into Brand Value Growth

The most valuable brand report has been ranking companies for over a decade, and some overarching factors have stood out as key contributors to brand value growth:

1. The Big Get Bigger

Starting “strong” can give brands an edge. This is because growth rate is closely correlated with high brand equity. In other words, a strong brand will likely see more growth than a weaker brand, which might explain why companies like Amazon and Apple have been able to hold their place at the top for several consecutive years.

Keep in mind, this doesn’t account for industry disruptors. An innovative company could come out of the woodwork next year and give the Big Tech giants a run for their money.

2. Marketing Makes a Difference

The right strategy can make a difference, and even smaller brands can make a splash if the message is impactful. Brands with emotional associations, like pride or popularity, tend to see that translate into brand value growth.

Companies like Nike and Coca-Cola have mastered the art of emotional advertising. For instance, in May last year, Nike released a video urging consumers to stand up for equality, in a video titled, “For Once, Just Don’t Do It.”

3. Smart Investment

It’s not just about developing an effective marketing strategy, it’s about executing that strategy, and continually investing in ways that perpetuate your brand message.

For instance, innovation is the core value of Tesla’s brand, and the electric car company walks the walk—in 2020, the company spent $1.5 billion on R&D.

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