In October of 2011, the Harvard Business School cajoled nearly 10,000 of its 78,000 alumni to complete a questionnaire that was published on January 18, 2012.

The result? Harvard alum are clearly glum.

In fact, 71% of the Harvard graduates who are in business expect America’s competitiveness to decline over the next three years. An additional 45% said that American firms will find it harder to compete in the global economy. A startling 64% said that American firms will find it harder to pay high wages and benefits.

Two-thirds of the total respondents were based in America; the rest were spread across 121 countries. More than 25% described themselves as a chief executive, chairman, founder, or owner.

While 57% felt that the business environment in America is somewhat, or much bette,r than the global average, when asked to compare America’s prospects with other industrialized economies, only 9% felt that America was pulling ahead; while some 21% said it was falling behind with 66% expecting America to lose ground to Brazil, India and China.

America’s most glaring weaknesses in the eyes of Harvard alums – surprise, surprise – included its political system, followed by its educational system, an unwieldly tax code, and macroeconomic policies devoid of clear strategy.

The Economist noted that:

“Surveys like this matter because the pessimism they reveal is reflected in the decisions bosses make. In the year before the survey, one respondent in six had been personally involved in a decision about whether to do something in America or another country. Some had to choose whether or not to shift an operation offshore. Others, whether to bring one back to America. Others had to decide where to locate a new operation. Overall, abroad defeated America by two to one.”

Those are numbers to feel glum about.

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