Venezuela easily held to the dubious honour of being at the top of the list of the 2020 Global Economic Misery Index, while Argentina was merely seven notches behind.
Weighing inflation, unemployment, interest rates and variation of the GDP per inhabitant, Argentina totalled 95 points to end up among the nations going through civil wars and natural catastrophes.
The index was published in the latest issue of the American magazine The National Review.
Argentina had finished next to last in 2019, behind Venezuela, but its situation improved thanks to the extension of the study from 95 countries to 156. Hence the appearances of Zimbabwe, Sudan, Lebanon, Suriname and Libya placed 2nd to 6th which previous indexes had lacked.
Argentina’s numbers were: unemployment (11.8%), inflation (44%) (the annualized rate at the end of 2020), annual interest rates (29.4%) and drop in GDP per capita (9.8%).
On the other end, the less economically miserable countries in 2020 were Guyana, Taiwan, Qatar, Japan and China. Of the 5 countries that appear as least miserable, 2 are superabundant in energy resources (Guyana and Qatar) and the rest are in Asia.
The discovery of oil in Guyana five years ago has led to the continuous creation of opportunities which have translated into a significantly better standard of living for all Guyanese linked to black gold either directly or via other areas of the economy which have grown around the booming business.
The index helps determine how the average citizen is doing economically and it is calculated by adding the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate to the annual inflation rate. It is assumed that both a higher rate of unemployment and a worsening of inflation create economic and social costs for a country.
The index was created by economist Arthur Okun, who served as the second chairman of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s Council of Economic Advisors and a professor at Yale. It consisted of the simple sum of the nation’s annual inflation rate and unemployment rate. It has broadened in recent times to include other economic indicators, such as bank lending rates.
The expression Misery Index became popular thanks to Ronald Reagan, who used it repeatedly when he ran for President against Jimmy Carter in 1980 based on a TV game show, although Carter himself had wielded it first in his 1976 campaign versus Gerald Ford.