I don't use the term "Third World" to describe these nations, as it is certainly outdated and often perceived as insulting. Whatever they are called, the poorer nations of the world are seen as basket cases in much general reporting, places of sub-standard living conditions and starving people throughout.
I agree that this is the reality for a still-high percentage of people in many developing nations, particularly in the group of Least-Developed Countries (LDCs). But there is also astonishing progress being made by less-wealthy nations in all regions. Our research is a way to tease out these highlights, to showcase the diamonds in the rough as well as those countries that are not doing so well and are in most need of investment and support.
So my relative index was born. By comparing the progress of nations with respect to the resources they have, and adjusting for cost-of-living and many other socioeconomic factors, I've created a core index and a series of related work that provides a level playing field for all, in my opinion.
I group the 143 nations I cover into five income tiers, using four specific terms that are in common use and one of my own invention: Developed, Edge, Emerging, Frontier, and LDC. By this reckoning, there are only 40 developed nations in the world -- the other 103 I examine percolate through the other four tiers.
One of the most interesting things I've found is that, as I expected, there is a broad continuum of progress within each of the five tiers:
* Canada performs much better than Italy, for example, in the Developed tier.
* Bulgaria and Romania are making progress more quickly than Thailand and Costa Rica in the Edge tier.
* Georgia is the star of the third, Emerging tier; Venezuela definitely is not.
* Vietnam has long been a leader among the fourth, Frontier Markets tier. Nigeria lags.
* Rwanda and Senegal are emerging within the LDC group, with several well-known troubled countries still requiring significant assistance.
I'm not singling out the specific countries above for adulation or reprimand, but just using them as examples to familiarize readers with them. There is a wide, wide world of investors, handling trillions of dollars with particular emphases: whether balancing growth and stability, hitching wagons to stars, rendering assistance where most needed, or combinations of all these.
The chart at the top of this post gives a quick visual of this concept. It shows the core Tau Index rankings of each of the 143 nations, grouped by income tier. We can see that each tier has a dramatic slope in the data, showing real superstars, middling performers, and clear trailing countries. The top two income tiers, Edge and Developed, show slightly less variance top to bottom, but still retain a large gap from the best to the least of performers.
Please contact me on LinkedIn or through email to discuss individual nations, regions, or any of the thousands upon thousands of data points and comparisons I've created over the years within the body of this research.