South Africa has been rated as one of the most miserable places on earth, at least in terms of holding a job and keeping the rising cost of goods in check.
Bloomberg’s Misery Index, computed by adding inflation to the unemployment rate, gives South Africa a score of 32.90%, which is the third most miserable country for all 74 economies surveyed by Bloomberg.
South Africa was rated the fifth most miserable place by the Cato Misery Index earlier this year. (See infographic below.)
Venezuela tops Bloomberg’s Misery Index as plunging oil revenues have led to chronic shortages of food and medicine, with inflation running at 181%.
With an index of 188.2%, the South American country is easily the “world’s most miserable” place. In second place is Bosnia at 48.97%.
South Africa’s unemployment rate currently stands at 26.6%, as a commodities slump put thousands of miners out of work and other economic factors such as a drought and a shortage of power curtailed growth plans.
The National Development Plan seeks to bring the unemployment rate down to 14% by 2020 and to 6% by 2030. However, with a GDP of between 0% and 1% this year, South Africa’s aims seem untenable.
South Africa’s inflation rate in June was 6.3%, with food prices increasing dramatically in 2016.
Land of Smiles really is a happy place
Meanwhile, the Land of Smiles really is the happiest place in the world.
The Misery Index gives Thailand a score of 1.11%, which is the best – or least miserable – for all 74 economies surveyed by Bloomberg.
Singapore and Japan are close runners-up, with 1.40% and 2.70%, respectively. The UK ranks as the 17th least miserable country, while the US takes 21st place. China follows closely in 23rd spot.
Thailand’s unemployment rate was around 1% at the end of June, while its consumer price index rose 0.1% year-on-year in July versus a 0.4% increase in June.
Even so, it’s not all roses and rapture for the Southeast Asian nation. Slowing inflation, though welcome for consumers, may signal a less than healthy economy.
Disinflation is a sign that demand for goods and services is insufficient to match supply in an economy, according to Sumitomo Mitsui Banking global market analyst Satoshi Okagawa. It encourages consumers to delay purchases until goods become cheaper, further lowering demand. In this deflationary spiral, wages will drop, Okagawa added.