According to the World Bank, only 13 countries out of 101 middle-income countries in 1960 grew to high-income status over the period 1960-2010.
The World Bank currently defines high-income economies are those with a GNI (Gross National Income) per capita of $12,056 or more.
The 13 high-income countries were — Equatorial Guinea; Greece; Hong Kong, China; Ireland; Israel; Japan; Mauritius; Portugal; Puerto Rico; Republic of Korea (South Korea); Singapore; Spain; and Taiwan.
The Changing Wealth of Nations, published by the World Bank in January 2018 analyses the wealth of 141 countries, from 1995 to 2014. The report not only provides indicators of current wealth but puts a value on human capital (the value of earnings over a person’s lifetime) that has a future component in regard to the expected trajectory of an economy.
Wealth comprises all assets, which means human capital, natural capital (energy, minerals, agricultural land), produced capital (machinery, buildings, urban land), and net foreign assets.
The report says that being resource-rich does not in itself indicate wealth and 12 resource-rich countries are among 24 countries classified as low-income since 1995.
In 2018 Norway was the wealthiest country on earth on a per capita basis. Ireland had a 19th rank — this Irish position is exaggerated by multinational distortions (for example the Irish outward foreign direct investment (FDI) stock in 2017 was ludicrously greater than the stock of inward investment according to official data!!), but a position in the top 30 would still be quite an achievement for a country that began in 1922 with only a third of industrial production on the island of Ireland.
The first Census of Industrial Production of the Irish Free State (the Republic of Ireland from 1949) showed that about 7% of employment was in manufacturing compared with 29% in Northern Ireland.
The Free State was dominated by agriculture while in the 1920s in other small European countries such as Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, and Belgium, about 25% of the workforces were engaged in manufacturing. Only 130 Irish companies employed more than 100 people according to Denis O'Hearn in 'The Atlantic Economy: Britain, the US and Ireland.'
The decision of Irish policymakers to embrace emerging postwar globalisation in the late 1950s and make Ireland a base for American investment in Europe was a seminal event.
When Ireland joined the European Economic Community (EEC ) in 1973 along with the United Kingdom and Denmark, it was the poorest country in Western Europe.
Ireland’s Gross Domestic Product per capita [Purchasing Power Standards (PPS) EU=100] on joining was almost two-thirds of the EU15 (countries that were members prior to 2004) average, according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO). See page xi here.
Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) data for 1973 using constant 2010 dollars, adjusted for price differences (PPS), show that Denmark’s GDP per capita at $24,800 was on top in the EEC compared with Ireland’s $12,200.
West Germany and France were at $20,600 and $20,300, while Italy was at $19,200 and the UK was at $18,800.
Greece’s GDP per capita was at $17,600 — compared with Japan’s $17,000.
Contemporary proxies for individual Irish standard of living show Ireland at about the mid-range of OECD countries which mainly comprises rich countries (excluding microstates such as Monaco, island tax havens and oil producers). Ireland is also in the same range among the EU28.
1) OECD 2016 data for 2014, show Ireland at a 19th rank of 34 countries in respect of Actual Individual Consumption (AIC) of public and private goods and services, adjusted for price differences [PPP] 2) OECD data for net-adjusted disposable income (after taxes and transfers) in 2015 has Ireland at 19 of 31 member countries 3) Eurostat data reported in December 2018 show Ireland's position for AIC at below the EU average at rank 12th (see below).
In each of the 3 datasets Ireland was behind Italy despite the latter's persistent economic stagnation.
In what could be considered as the other side of Prof Liam Kennedy's MOPE coin, in the space of a few days last week, 2 Irish Times columnists claimed that Ireland was the 'envy' of most of the world [1) "The Irish political system has, in recent decades, delivered a level of prosperity and openness that is the envy of much of the world" 2) "Look around the world and realise that most of the world’s people today regard us with envy."
Apart from the reality that most of the world could not find Ireland on the map, the spectacular income vaulting propelled by FDI, has left Ireland in a trap.
The over-reliance on FDI has left Ireland without a significant innovation capability; a very low ratio of exporting firms, and a low level of employer firm entrepreneurship.
The distorted national accounts data also promote complacency as many international comparisons give Ireland a false sense of achievement. Last week, again in The Irish Times, there was this gem on why Ireland will not emulate the French tax revolt "There is no doubt that France is a high-tax economy: recent figures show that the country’s tax as a percentage of GDP hit 48.4% in 2017. Compare this to just 23.5% in Ireland."
Irish protests in 2016 did force the Government to abandon charging for water — the Irish prefer stealth taxes and the Irish tax burden as a percentage of modified Gross National Income (GNI* after stripping out many of the distortions) is similar to Germany's at 37%.
We have caveats here for what Paul Krugman, the New York Times economist, called Leprechaun Economics in 2016 when Ireland reported a crazy 26.3% jump in 2015 economic output — it was a fairytale resulting from for example companies like Apple onshoring (through accounting entries in the US) intellectual capital (IP) from shell companies to Ireland. Irish Coporation Tax receipts have risen by 126% since 2014 to €10.4bn in 2018 thanks mainly to the tax shenanigans of US multinational firms. The chief economist of the Department of Finance said on Jan 3, 2019 that about 7% of the State’s total tax receipts — €4bn — now come from just 10 firms. The economic recovery has also helped.
Human Development Index 2018
Ireland is ranked 4th of 189 countries.
Norway is in the lead followed by Switzerland (2); Australia (3), Ireland (4), Germany (5), Iceland (6), Hong Kong, China (7); Sweden (8); Singapore (9) and the Netherlands (10).
The main HDI index is based on just 3 “basic aspects of human development — leading a long and healthy life, being knowledgeable and enjoying a decent standard of living.”
The typical life expectancy for 60-year olds in rich countries in Europe, including Ireland, is 82 while the mean number of years of schooling is about 12 (Ireland's NEET level was 15th in the EU in 2017 — the percentage of the 20-34-year-old population in neither, employment, education or training).
However, the key factor in Ireland's 4th ranking was the price-adjusted (Purchasing Power Parities) Gross National Income (GNI) per capita of $53,754 but this is not a reliable indicator.
Ireland's Gross National Income per capita was 28% above the UK and France but the Central Statistics Office's (CSO) modified GNI* level using current values in 2017 was behind both countries.
The headline GNI is massively distorted by multinational tax avoidance measures (see section on innovation below).
World Happiness Report 2018
The World Happiness Report is a survey of the state of global happiness and it ranks 156 countries by their happiness levels, and 117 countries by the happiness of their immigrants.
Ireland is at rank 14 ahead of Germany. Singapore and Malaysia at 34 and 35 are ahead of Spain. Italy is at 47 and Japan at 54.
However, Ireland's GDP per capita at $62,400 (2011 international dollars adjusted for price differences) is 7th highest in the world ahead of Switzerland but more accurate Irish data would be similar to UK's GDP per capita ranking of 23 ($39,000). The UK has an overall ranking of 19.
Social Progress Index 2018
The Social Progress Index rather "than emphasizing traditional measurements of success like income and investment, we measure 51 social and environmental indicators to create a clearer picture of what life is really like for everyday people.
The index doesn’t measure people’s happiness or life satisfaction, focusing instead on actual life outcomes in areas from shelter and nutrition to rights and education. This exclusive focus on measurable outcomes makes the index a useful policy tool that tracks changes in society over time."
Ireland has a first tier 12th ranking.
However, the poor Irish occupational pension coverage of just only over a third of private sector workers, is not covered in the methodology.
OECD's Better Life Index
The think-tank for 36 mainly rich countries, says the Better Life Index allows you to compare well-being across countries, based on 11 topics the OECD has identified as essential, in the areas of material living conditions and quality of life."
Ireland's rank is average at about 15.
The Index shows that in terms of voting Nordic countries do much better than Ireland in civic participation.
Euro Health Consumer Index 2017
The Netherlands is the only country which has consistently been among the top three in the total ranking of any European Index the Health Consumer Powerhouse since 2005.
According to the Index, "The 2012 NL score of 872 points was by far the highest ever seen in a HCP Index. The 924 points in 2016 are even more impressive, particularly as the score criteria have been tightened for the EHCI 2017 in order to register differences."
Ireland has a 24th position in the ranking of 35 country systems.
1) Ireland lost 353,000 jobs between December 2007 and March 2011 when a new government assumed power.
In September 2018, the numbers in employment were 40,000 above the 2007 level.
2) The number of new dwellings built declined from 93,000 in 2006 to 7,000 in 2011 to 4,600 in 2013. However, over the following four years the number of new dwellings built has increased steadily each year to stand at 14,446 in 2017 according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
The number of new apartments built in 2017 was 2,264, an increase of 92.3% on 2016.
The number employed in Construction has grown from 88,000 at the end of 2013 to 146,000 in Q32018.
3) Research at the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) this year by Prof Tim Callan and others show that real (inflation-adjusted) incomes have more than doubled across the spectrum in the period 1987-2014 and in contrast with some other countries, income inequality in Ireland hasn't risen because of redistribution to low-income residents.
4) Ireland's standard of living per capita was below the EU28 average and behind Italy's in 2017.
5) Ireland has the second-worst employer startup rate among mainly rich 29-member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Belgium has the worst rating while the United Kingdom is the best with a rate that is almost quadruple Ireland’s.
Ireland has a good rate for High Growth Enterprises but that likely reflects new inward FDI firms.
Check the latest OECD Business Demgraphy data on births and deaths of employer enterprises here.
Ireland lacks a culture of reform which is evident in both the Housing and Health sectors.
The two biggest political parties traditionally pander to farmers while the hybrid public/private health service has for decades been a vipers' nest of vested interests.
In 2001 the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) succeeded in getting 23% of the National Roadbulding Budget when the average land acquisition rate for roadbuilding in the then EU was 12%. Coupled with the adoption of the British planning system that artificailly makes land for development scrace, housing has been a feast and a famine in recent decades.
The OECD current expenditure on health, per capita, US$ purchasing power parities in 2017 was at $5,386 in the Netherlands and $5,449 in Ireland.
See more detail here on economic challenges:
Irish Housing Crisis: It’s time for radical solutions — Part 1 — the Irish development land valuation racket
Average Irish housing size lowest of EU's rich countries — Part 2 — the taboo on high rise
Ireland has had a positive environment for business for many decades as successive governments sought to make the country an attractive location for foreign direct investment (FDI), besides the offer of low tax rates. During the general election campaign in early 2011, Enda Kenny, taoiseach/ prime minister, stressed the aspiration that by 2016 the country would be "the best small country in the world in which to do business."
“I will seek the trust of the Irish people to implement Fine Gael’s plan to get Ireland working again,” Kenny said on Jan 27, 2011. “I firmly believe that by 2016, Ireland can become the best small country in the world in which to do business, the best country in which to raise a family and the best country in which to grow old with dignity and respect.”
"Since coming into office 7 months ago I have told nearly all audiences that by 2016 I intend to make Ireland the best small country in the world in which to do business," Kenny said on October 28, 2011. "An integral part of this vision is to transform Ireland into the Digital Capital of Europe."
In 2016, the available metrics showed that Ireland wasn’t the best small country in the world in which to do business while in Europe, there are several rankings of tech activity and startups in cities, but there is a dearth of statistics. Still, Ireland where many foreign tech firms focus on sales and administration, the claim that Ireland is the Digital Capital of Europe, remains aspirational.
World Bank’s ‘Doing Business 2019’
‘Doing Business’ is the most comprehensive annual report on business regulation reforms and ease of doing business in 190 countries.
Twelve of the top 20 economies are from the OECD high-income group; four are from East Asia and the Pacific, two are from Europe and Central Asia and one each is from Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East and North Africa.
New Zealand (ranked first for a third consecutive year); Singapore (2); Denmark (3); Hong Kong, China (4); South Korea (5), Georgia (6); Norway (7); United States (8), United Kingdom (9), and Macedonia (10).
Ireland is at 23 (down from 17 the previous year), behind Canada and ahead of Germany
World Economic Forum Competitiveness Index 2018
The World Economic Forum says in the Global Competitiveness Report 2018 that all economies must invest in broader measures of competitiveness today to sustain growth and income in the future. The results demonstrate a strong correlation between competitiveness and income level. For instance, high-income economies make up the entire top 20 and only 3 non-high-income economies feature in the top 40: Malaysia (25th), China (28th), and Thailand (38th).
The WEF says that the results show that there are only a few innovation powerhouses in the world, including Germany, the United States and Switzerland. The global median score on the Innovation capability pillar is 36, by far the lowest score across the 12 pillars. For 77 of the 140 economies studied, Innovation capability is the weakest pillar. In the vast majority of countries, innovation capacity remains extremely limited, very localised and/or restricted to very few sectors.
The United States is the world’s most competitive economy, ahead of Singapore (2); Germany (3); Switzerland (4); Japan (5); Netherlands (6); Hong Kong, China (7); United Kingdom (8); Sweden 99) and Denmark (10)
Ireland is at 23, up from 24 last year, of 140 countries, behind Austria and ahead of Iceland.
The Global Competitiveness Report competitiveness ranking is based on the Global Competitiveness Index (GCI), which was introduced by the World Economic Forum in 2005. Defining competitiveness as the set of institutions, policies, and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country, GCI scores are calculated by drawing together country-level data covering 12 categories — the pillars of competitiveness — that collectively make up a comprehensive picture of a country’s competitiveness.
The 12 pillars are: institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic environment, health and primary education, higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labour market efficiency, financial market development, technological readiness, market size, business sophistication, and innovation.
IMD Swiss Business School 2018
The top five most competitive economies according to the IMD World Competitiveness Rankings of 63 countries in May 2018, remained the same as in the previous year, but their order changed. The United States returned to the first spot, followed by Hong Kong, China, Singapore, the Netherlands, and Switzerland. The United States improves three positions from last year while Hong Kong drops one spot and Singapore remains at (3). The return of the United States to the top is driven by its strength in economic performance (1) and infrastructure (1). Hong Kong improved on its government efficiency (1) and business efficiency (1). The Netherlands is at (4) and Switzerland (5). The remaining places in the top 10 are occupied largely by Nordic countries: Denmark, Norway, and Sweden rank (6), (8) and (9) respectively. These countries show strong performance in the overall productivity of the private sector and its management practices. The United Arab Emirates (7) and Canada (10) close the top of the rankings.
Ireland at (12) and Luxembourg (11) leave the top 10, dropping six and three places respectively.
IMD uses 340+ criteria — List of all criteria
The US leads the IMD World Digital Competitiveness Ranking 2018 followed by Singapore (2), Sweden (3), Denmark (4), and Switzerland (5). Rising from the (3) spot, the US overtakes Singapore and Sweden to top the ranking. Norway (6), Finland (7), Canada (8), Netherlands (9) and the UK (10) complete the top 10.
Ireland is at (20) with New Zealand ahead and Iceland behind.
Best Countries Rankings 2019
The Best Countries rankings evaluate 80 countries across 24 rankings drawn from a survey of more than 21,000 global citizens. It is produced by US News and World Report magazine in partnership with Y&R's brand strategy firm, BAV Group, and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Switzerland (1), Canada (2), Germany (3), United Kingdom (4), Japan (5), Sweden (6), Australia (7), United States (8), France (9) and the Netherlands (10) are in the top 10.
Ireland is at (20) with China ahead and South Korea behind.
The Entrepreneurship subranking has Germany at (1), Japan (2), United States (3), United Kingdom (4), Switzerland (5), Sweden (6), Canada (7), Singapore (8), Netherlands (9) and Norway (10).
Ireland is at (20) with New Zealand ahead and Italy behind.
Forbes’ Best Countries for Business 2019
This ranking in December 2018 is a compendium of other reports (Freedom House, Heritage Foundation, Property Rights Alliance, United Nations, Transparency International, World Bank Group, Aon, Marsh & McLennan and World Economic Forum) and it has focused on factors such as property rights, innovation, taxes, technology, corruption, freedom (personal, trade and monetary), red tape, investor protection and stock market performance. The last one was dropped in the December 2017 rankings.
Despite the Brexit chaos, the United Kingdom was ranked (1) for 2019, as it was in 2018, followed by Sweden (2); Hong Kong, China (3); Netherlands (4); New Zealand (5); Canada (6); Denmark (7); Singapore (8); Australia (9) and Switzerland (10). Full list
Ireland slipped from 8th ranking last year to the 11th position.
Global Innovation Index 2018
The Global Innovation Index is the result of a collaboration between Cornell University of the United States, INSEAD, the French business school, and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) as co-publishers.
- Switzerland (Number 1 in 2017)
- Netherlands (3)
- Sweden (2)
- United Kingdom (5)
- Singapore (7)
- United States of America (4)
- Finland (8)
- Denmark (6)
- Germany (9)
- Ireland (10)
The 2018 report says:
Ireland ranks in the top 25 across all pillars except Market sophistication (29th), where it loses four positions. At the sub-pillar level, Ireland is still number 1 in Knowledge diffusion, thanks to its 1st spots in FDI outflows and ICT services exports. The country holds top positions in IP payments and FDI inflows and shows a better ranking than in 2017 in a number of important indicators, including tertiary enrolment, researchers, gross capital formation, environmental performance, and high-tech exports. Ireland shows weakness in some particular indicators, including expenditure on education, government funding per pupil, domestic credit to private sector, intensity of local competition, industrial designs by origin, and cultural and creative services exports.
1) Most of the IP (intellectual property) payments do not reflect research activities in Ireland. Some is transferred tax-free to shell companies while since 2015, several US companies have redesiganted Ireland as a source for IP, which shifted it from tax havens such as Bermuda;
2) About 50% of Irish annual services exports are fake — think of Google and Facebook booking one-third of their global revenues and Microsoft booking a quarter.
3) Ireland having a net foreign direct investment (FDI) to the rest of the world is a significant anomaly — giant US companies like Medtronic, Allergan and Accenture became “Irish” by transferring their headquarters to Ireland to reduce their tax payments — Accenture told us two years ago that it was never American as it was a spin-out by Arthur Andersen, to become a Bermudan company in 2001, before the US accountancy firm crashed. The consultancy firm moved its headquarters to Ireland in 2009 as Bermuda invoked tax-dodging! The large FDI outflows from Ireland are a fiction.
4) As for “global R&D companies” in November 2015, Catherine Mann, the then chief economist of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), a think-tank for 36 mainly rich countries, said in Dublin that Ireland will have to sell itself as more than just a low-tax destination in the new era of global tax transparency. She also highlighted the poor links between the FDI sector and the rest of the economy, with Ireland having one of the lowest EU spends on R&D (research and development), despite housing some of the most innovative firms in the world.
"Global capital has come into Ireland...but somehow it hasn't translated into Irish-owned firms," said Dr. Mann. "The patents are here, but they're not being linked into the domestic economy, not being levered up by domestic firms or married to domestic workers."
5) Patent applications from Ireland to the European Patent Office in 2017, per 1 million inhabitants, were at 14th rank despite the presence of a large number of global firms.
Applications with an Irish-based inventor for the global standard PCT patent, administered by the UN's World Intellectual Property Organisation, totalled 486 in 2017 and 477 in 2008. The Swiss levels in 2017 and 2008 were 4,485 and 3,778.
The Economist Intelligence Unit’s The Inclusive Internet Index: Measuring Success 2018
The Inclusive Internet Index, commissioned by Facebook and conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), in its second year expanded to cover 86 countries, up from 75 in 2017. The EIU says the index provides a rigorous benchmark of national-level Internet inclusion across four categories: Availability, Affordability, Relevance, and Readiness. This year’s index, which covers 91% of the world’s population, is published alongside a new global Value of the Internet Survey, which polled 4,267 respondents from 85 countries, from Singapore and Switzerland to Cambodia and Ethiopia, to gauge perceptions on how Internet use affects people’s lives.
Countries are evaluated based on 54 indicators organized around four major categories:
- Availability, which captures the quality of breadth of the infrastructure available for internet access, including network availability, access points for landline and mobile connections, and the basic electricity infrastructure needed to support internet connectivity in urban and rural areas.
- Affordability, which measures the cost of Internet access relative to income, the competitive environment for wireless and broadband operators and the measures taken to decrease costs and promote access.
- Relevance, which looks at the availability of Internet content in the local language(s) and the value of being connected to get access to relevant services like news, entertainment, health advice and business and financial information.
- Readiness, which examines the capacity to take advantage of accessing the Internet, including the level of literacy, educational attainment, cultural acceptance, privacy and security, and trust in the sources of online information.
Each country is assigned a score for each of the four categories, as well as an overall index score.
Sweden (1), Singapore (2), the US (3), Denmark (4) and South Korea had the highest overall index scores. France (6), United Kingdom (7), Chile (8), Poland (9) and Canada (10) complete the top 10.
Ireland is at (21) behind Italy and Taiwan, and ahead of Switzerland.
European Innovation Scorecard
Sweden (1) remains the EU innovation leader, followed by Denmark (2), Finland (3), Netherlands (4), UK (5) and Luxembourg (6) — this group of countries is called innovation leaders.
Germany (7), Belgium (8), Ireland (9), Austria 10) and France (11) are called strong innovators.
Luxembourg. Lithuania, the Netherlands, Malta, the UK, Latvia, and France are the fastest growing innovators.
Ireland is cited for “innovation in SMEs, employment impacts, and sales impacts.”
The Ireland profile shows high Knowledge-intensive services exports (exaggerated); new innovations to market (mainly from foreign-controlled firms and developed elsewhere); employment in Knowledge-intensive activities is 75% above the EU average (about half of employment in the Irish ICT sector, are administration positions); business spending on R&D is low; intellectual assets (patents) are low and entrepreneurship is also low.
Some of the venture capital funding appears to be for young Irish tech firms but while they may have operations in Ireland, they are effectively run from elsewhere.
Business (foreign and indigenous) has one of the lowest levels of funding of university research in the EU.
According to Irish official data, the majority of foreign-controlled exporters do not have any R&D spending while the lack of separate innovation data on the small indigenous exporting sector that would reveal the actual reality, is a disservice to it.
Wonder why Ireland’s average material standard of living is below the EU average?
The best for business?
In October 2017, the Economist Intelligence Unit published a study based on a survey of over 2,600 executives in 45 cities around the world, as well as one-on-one interviews with 15 business leaders, city officials and other experts, on confidence in the digital environment. Dublin was not included.
Seven of the 10 highest confidence levels in the survey are recorded in emerging Asian cities.
Key findings from the research include:
- Executives in London and Madrid are some of the most confident in the world in their city’s ability to support their digital ambitions, ranking ninth and (10) respectively.
- Confidence in the overall environment was lowest in Berlin, which ranks (45) overall. The city also ranked 45th for innovation and entrepreneurship despite the city’s vibrant startup ecosystem.
- Forty-eight percent of all respondents believe their city’s ICT infrastructure is ineffective for their transformation needs.
- Executives in Rome have limited confidence in their city’s overall environment (35), compared with those in Milan (24), where confidence is substantially higher than Italy’s capital across all categories except ICT infrastructure.
- There were mixed results for European cities on the Barometer when it comes to overall confidence in the environment. Following London and Madrid, ranking for the other cities were: Barcelona (12), Copenhagen (16), Paris (20), Oslo (21), Milan (24), Brussels (25), Antwerp (28), Amsterdam (29), Marseilles (30), Stockholm (31), Birmingham (32), Rome (35), Frankfurt (36) and Rotterdam (41).
It makes sense generally for non-tech startups to be born in a native city or country because existing contacts are important while it may make sense to develop a tech startup in a city with a significant tech cluster. In Asia, for example, a less expensive base in Kuala Lumpur with easy access to Singapore and Shanghai could be a wise choice.
If Patrick and John Collison, natives of County Limerick, Ireland, had founded Stripe, their online payments service in Ireland in 2010 rather than San Francisco, it would likely be now part of a bigger multinational firm — companies like Google (it has acquired over 200 startups since 2004) and Apple depend on acquiring startups for key innovations and this is the typical route for an Irish tech startup with high growth potential and reliant on local venture capital for funding.
Bloomberg Businessweek: How Two Brothers Turned Seven Lines of Code Into a $9.2 Billion Startup
As for the best countries for business, in Europe, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Finland take the honours as they also do with quality of life indicators — OECD’s Better Life Index. However, a Swiss basket of grocery items was +91% more expensive than France in 2017.
In Asia it’s Singapore, Hong Kong, China and New Zealand — Singapore is one of the world’s most expensive countries while spacious housing in Hong Kong costs a goldmine!