Despite a growing financial market crisis and looming recession, the U.S. economy continues to lead the world, according to the World Economic Forum.

For the second year in a row, the U.S. economy took first place in the international policy group's annual ranking of global competitiveness.

This year, European countries filled out much of the top ten, with Switzerland holding on to second place, followed by Denmark and Sweden. Weakening financials forced the United Kingdom to slide three places to No. 12, the report said.

Singapore and Japan were the only Asian countries to make the top ten, though Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan all made the top 20. China led the way among large developing economies, jumping four places to No. 30.

The results were based on a poll of more than 12,000 global business leaders.

Rising food and energy prices, an international financial crisis and a worldwide economic slowdown are creating a slew of new challenges for policy-makers, the report said.

"In an uncertain global financial environment it is more important than ever for countries to put into place the fundamentals underpinning economic growth and development," Klaus Schwab, the group's founder and director, said in a statement.