Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Best Countries For Business: Stock Bets

Washington, D.C. - The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank, releases its annual "Doing Business" report this week. The report, based on a survey of 6,700 business experts across the globe, ranks 181 countries by their hospitality to private enterprise.

The IFC describes its report--which looks at criteria such as enforcement of contracts, taxes and cross-border trade--as "a kind of cholesterol test for the regulatory environment."

By the IFC's tally, Azerbaijan, consistent with reform-happy Eastern Europe and Central Asia, has made the biggest improvement to its business climate recently. Meanwhile, 28 African countries have taken steps to make doing business easier, a number the IFC calls a record.

For the last several years, we've used "Doing Business" as a tool for stock pickers. The gist: International investors should stick with companies in countries with the most business-friendly regulatory frameworks. We start with the 30 countries taking the top spots on the IFC's "Ease of Doing Business" rankings. You can find the full list here.From there we look for publicly traded companies from those countries.

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