Opacity Index
Apr 01, 2009

Thirty-three of the 48 countries included in the index improved their overall score since last year's rankings. With more countries adopting international accounting standards, the global financial system has become more transparent in the past year, according to the latest Opacity Index.

However, many economies continue to be hurt by significant opacity in their credit markets and financial institutions, including inappropriately priced risk in the mortgage markets, lax regulatory oversight and a failure to apply existing regulations.

In the 2009 rankings, Finland again comes in at No. 1, underlining the country's stable regulatory environment, low levels of corruption and high compliance with international standards for accounting rules and practices.

The top 10 markets (with 2008 ranking):

Rank 2009 Opacity Score
1. Finland (1) 9
2. Hong Kong (2) 12
3. Australia (4) 14
3. Singapore (3) 14
3. Sweden (4) 14
6. Denmark (6) 15
7. Ireland (6) 15
8. Austria (6) 16
9. Germany (9) 17
10. United Kingdom (9) 18

As described in the report, opacity is measured by small-scale but frequent risks, such as corruption and opacity in financial markets that work as deterrents to economic growth. Lower scores suggest a more transparent market.

The Opacity Index measures five factors: corruption, legal system efficiency, accounting standards, regulatory effectiveness and economic and enforcement policies. Together, these factors form the acronym CLEAR. Higher levels of opacity in each of the CLEAR factors indicate a poorly functioning government, which increases the cost of doing business as well as the risk.