In his State of the Union address (looking at the ratings, apparently a huge win for Netflix and Xbox), President Obama enthusiastically declared:
“And for the first time in over a decade, business leaders around the world have declared that China is no longer the world’s number one place to invest; America is.”
Politico’s fact check on the speech found that the president was citing one prominent management consulting firm’s survey in his speech.
“The White House cited a A.T. Kearney survey as the basis for Obama’s remark, noting the United States indeed landed at the top of the global consulting firm’s list for expected foreign direct investment based on the responses from 300 executives in 28 countries.” [Politico]
Politico noted that other surveys, such as by Ernst & Young and the Milken Institute, all rank other nations as more attractive destinations for investment than the United States. Milken, for example, ranks the U.S. 22nd out of 98 nations on its Global Opportunity Index.
Politifact, a Pulitzer Prize-winning fact checking site, gave the president a “mostly true” rating for his statement, citing the A.T. Kearney survey as the basis for its judgment.
But economist Alan Tonelson of the U.S. Business and Industry Council, among others, says the president is “flat wrong” on the numbers. He offers these statistics from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development:
Foreign direct investment inflows to U.S., 2012: $166.4 billion
Foreign direct investment inflows to China, 2012: $253.4 billion
Foreign direct investment inflows to U.S., 2Q 2013*: $37.9 billion
Foreign direct investment inflows to U.K., 2Q 2013: $40.8 billion
Foreign direct investment inflows to China, 2Q 2013: $61.3 billion
*latest available figure
We're inclined to believe that while sentiment may be shifting to the United States, the president would be on firmer ground if he had stuck with the numbers.