Rank Mysteries

PARIS – Gibraltar received exciting news last month. The latest Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI), published by the consultancy Z/Yen in London, revealed that the Rock had risen further and faster up the ranks than any other center – 17 places, from 70th to 53rd position, since the previous report in September 2013.

I can imagine the celebrations in Gibraltar Town, where, now that the British naval base has closed and Spain is being difficult at the border, financial services are crucial for employment. And I can also imagine that many in Hamilton, Bermuda, which plummeted almost as far as Gibraltar climbed – 16 places, to 56th – must be crying into their rum punch.

Of course, it is also possible that Gibraltar and Bermuda have chosen to ignore the results, or dispute their significance. Either way, there is no doubting the global obsession with league tables nowadays. One can find a ranking for almost every form of human activity.

Commercial banks are ranked by assets. Investment banks are ranked on a variety of metrics, as are universities – from academic results to their prowess in environmental management, or their appeal to gay students. In the United Kingdom, you can find a table showing where it is best to live if you wish to win Britain’s National Lottery. (Your chances are almost twice as good in the northeast as in Northern Ireland.)