See also: The Happiest Countries in the World
It’s a tough old world when you’re unemployed and can’t afford to buy anything. But just how tough do you think you have it?
Check out the “Misery Index”, created by an economist and published in Bloomberg, which will let you know just how miserable your country is. The index adds the annual changes in consumer price index to unemployment rates, to arrive at a total figure; and the higher the number, the more miserable the country. This year, misery will be felt most keenly by the Venezuelans, whose Misery Index is pretty much off the scale. The country recently went into recession and its economy is expected to shrink by around 7 percent, according to a report in the FT.
A total of 51 economies were analysed and their misery level quantified. Below are the top ten most miserable countries, based on the Index.
So bad is the situation in Venezuela that its friendly neighbour Trinidad and Tobago suggested a “tissue paper-for-oil” deal, according to Bloomberg. Inflation in Venezuela was at 69 per cent in 2015, with some predicting that it could reach unheard of levels of 200 per cent in 2015. The country’s financial misery is largely due to the collapse in global oil prices and gas, which left the country short of money needed to buy basic goods.
South America’s second largest economy is the second most miserable, according to the Misery Index. The country’s inflation rates hit the dizzying heights of 40 per cent in 2014, a rate which presidential hopeful Sergio Mass believes is “unsustainable”. The country has been badly affected by a series of legal battles with creditors and the economy is expected to shrink this year by 1.5 per cent, according to IMF, as reported in Bloomberg. To compound the country’s misery, the government has increased limits on imported goods, making it difficult for manufacturers to secure supplies.
3. South Africa
South Africa is still recovering from the recession that destabilised the country back in 2009. A hangover from the recession, daily electricity blackouts are common and unemployment is at a jaw-dropping 24 per cent.
Ukrainian consumers are the fourth most miserable in the index, thanks to increasing joblessness and high unemployment. Continuing tensions with Russia, skyrocketing inflation (45.8% in March of this year) and a GDP per capita this year of only $8,494 exacerbate the misery of this embattled country’s consumers.
Greece seems to be seldom out of the news, and here it is once again - fifth on the list of Les Miserables. Eye-wateringly high levels of unemployment and extortionate levels of public debt (the highest in the Eurozone) contribute to the misery of the Greeks.
Although Spain’s economy is growing and there are signs of progress on the employment front, unemployment is still painfully high and there are over 5 million people out of work -twice the euro-area average.
Despite the fact that the mood music of the Russian economy appears to be one of optimism, Russian wages have shrunk: 13.2 per cent from last year. Real disposable income has fallen by 4 per cent from the previous year, unemployment has dropped to 5.8 per cent, while Bloomberg expects the economy to shrink by over 3 per cent this year.
The Croatian economy has shrunk by over 12 per cent in recent years, the third-worst shrinkage after Greece and Cyprus. Low growth, high debt, fewer exports and an “indebted private sector” all contribute to the country’s misery.
According to Bloomberg, Turkey’s lira has been a particularly bad performer when compared with other emerging markets currencies. Foreign investment is down, inflation is up and GDP growth is at a disappointing 3 per cent, all of which contribute to the misery of its consumers. Even the construction sector, hailed as the economy’s “motor”, is “running out of gas”.
Tenth on the misery scale is Portugal, with better news on the economic front compared with the above nine countries: GDP is expected to grow by 1.6 per cent this year, higher than its previous estimate of 1.5 per cent; household spending has increased; and investment has increased by over 5 per cent. Unemployment remains a thorn in Portugal’s side, however: it increased to over 13 per cent in the three months to March.
For people living in these countries, life is really tough. Add any comments about this article to the box below.