A world of ongoing global integration leads to rising global trade and to rising competition between companies from different countries and to some degree also between the countries themselves. Some countries have benefited from rising global trade and strengthened their positions, expressed by rising trade surplus; other countries have come under pressure, expressed by rising trade deficit. These global trade imbalances are a consequence of competitive differences. Deutsche Bank note that investors invest in companies and the countries are the platform of the companies. Therefore, an understanding of global competiveness of countries is key for investors. It is most helpful to look at the combination of competiveness and hourly wages. The more competitive a country is, the higher its wages can be justified. There is a clear relation between the two variables. Countries below the regression curve have a strong competiveness rank relative to their labour costs while countries above the curve have a lower competiveness rank relative to their labour costs. Greece is one of the most extreme outliers, but Italy, Spain, and Argentina are also above the curve. They have a long way to go to get close to competitive.
Competitiveness vs hourly compensation costs...
and in detail - just why the PIGS are (still) out of luck:
Source: Deutsche Bank