S'pore, Thailand, Japan rated the 'least miserable' nations

Bloomberg Misery Index combines the cost of living with the strength of the job market

SINGAPORE/HONG KONG • Thailand, Singapore and Japan are three of the world's least miserable nations.

That is according to Bloomberg's Misery Index, which combines the cost of living with the strength of the job market.

Japan and Singapore can thank falling prices for the honours, while Thailand has long scored well because its official unemployment rate remains low.

  • LEAST MISERABLE

  • • Thailand

    • Singapore

    • Japan

  • MOST MISERABLE

  • • Venezuela

    • Bosnia

    • South Africa

The Misery Index, computed by adding inflation to the unemployment rate, gives Thailand a score of 1.11 per cent, which is the best - or least miserable - of all 74 economies surveyed by Bloomberg.

Singapore and Japan are close runner-ups, with 1.40 per cent and 2.70 per cent, respectively. The UK ranks the 17th least miserable country while the US takes 21st place. China follows closely in 23rd spot.

Venezuela is at the other end of the scale as plunging oil revenues have led to chronic shortages of food and medicine, and inflation is running at 181 per cent. With an index of 188.2 per cent, the South American country is easily the "world's most miserable" place. It is followed by Bosnia at 48.97 per cent and South Africa with 32.90 per cent.

Thailand's unemployment rate was around 1 per cent at the end of June, while its consumer price index rose 0.1 per cent year-on-year last month versus a 0.4 per cent increase in June.

But it is not a bed of roses for the Land of Smiles. Slowing inflation, although welcome for consumers, may signal a less than healthy economy. Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp global market analyst Satoshi Okagawa said disinflation is a sign that demand for goods and services is insufficient to match supply in an economy.

This encourages consumers to delay purchases until goods become cheaper, further lowering demand, and in this deflationary spiral, wages will also drop, he said.

BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 09, 2016, with the headline 'S'pore, Thailand, Japan rated the 'least miserable' nations'. Print Edition | Subscribe