ETF Trends
ETF Trends

The United States is the land of the free, sure, but not quite as economically free as some other countries. Asia and Asia-Pacific countries are among some of the more liberalized economies in the world and their country-related exchange traded funds (ETFs) are reflecting the growth that comes with that greater freedom.

According to the 2010 Index of Economic Freedom released by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal, Asia and Asia-Pacific countries have some of the highest levels of “economic freedom,” with Hong Kong in first place, followed by Singapore, Australia and New Zealand, writes Terry Miller for The Wall Street Journal.

  • iShares MSCI Hong Kong Index (NYSEArca: EWH)
  • iShares MSCI Singapore Index (NYSEArca: EWS)
  • iShares MSCI Australia (NYSEArca: EWA)

China, though, experienced diminished economic freedom after the financial crisis. [China is opening up its markets.] South Korea and Japan have maintained or expanded their economic freedom.

  • SPDR S&P China (NYSEArca: GXC)
  • iShares FTSE Xinhua/China 25 Index (NYSEArca: FXI)
  • iShares MSCI South Korea (NYSEArca: EWY)
  • iShares MSCI Japan (NYSEArca: EWJ)

Why is economic freedom so crucial? Countries with greater economic freedom have continued to liberalize their economies, allowing entrepreneurs and consumers greater opportunities to grow and prosper.

Historical trends have shown that there is a strong correlation between economic freedom and prosperity. Economically freer countries have higher per-capita incomes on average as compared to those less free economies. Furthermore, economic freedom provides better overall quality of life, more stable political and social conditions, and higher protection of the environment. Freer economies also tend to have a lower poverty rate than those with highly regulated economies.

It should be no surprise, then, that Asia is predicted to lead the world in economic growth this year. The United Nations predicts that while the global growth rate will be about 2.4%, East Asia will grow 6.7% and South Asia will clock in at 5.5%, reports Voice of America.

For more information on Asia, visit our Asia category.

Max Chen contributed to this article.

The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product.