And the World’s Most Miserable Economies Are ...

by Veronique de Rugy

Every year, Bloomberg publishes its misery index. The ranking rates 63 national economies by adding a country’s jobless rate and inflation. Bloomberg explains, “Misery index calculations were compiled using the median estimates in Bloomberg economic surveys from the past three months. Figures for 2015 inflation and unemployment data reflect the average over the year and use the most current data available for each country.” The methodology obviously ignores many important factors but it is transparent and has been used for a long time by analysts.

The higher the score, the more miserable the economic situation of those living in that country is. Like any ranking, it is to be taken with a grain of salt (or two or three). However, some of the results are interesting. Not surprisingly, especially considering how it is calculated, at the top of the misery index we find Venezuela (the most miserable country two years in a row), Argentina, South Africa, Greece, and Ukraine.

Also, seven European Union countries find themselves among the twenty most miserable economies. Spain takes sixth place, between Ukraine and Serbia, and Italy lands the 18th place, between Costa Rica and Slovakia. The Eurozone overall is number 20. And then there is France which ranks 21 on this misery index. The country has a 10.5 percent unemployment rate, a 56 percent spending per GDP rate, and is growing its GDP by a timid 1.1 percent rate. That’s an improvement over 2014 when the country grew by only 0.7 percent.

This is not surprising when you look at the 2016 Index of Economic Freedom and see that France ranks 75th in the world. It has gone down about ten places since 2003. High taxes, large spending, over regulating, and corruption will do that.

Germany is a noticeable exception with its 43rd-place ranking. The U.S. is ranked 51 out of 63.

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