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World’s ‘least miserable’ live in Asia, thanks to disinflation

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by August 8, 2016 General

The Land of Smiles really is the happiest place in the world, at least in terms of holding a job and keeping the rising cost of goods in check.

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

Singapore and Japan are close runners-up, with 1.4 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively. The U.K. ranks the 17th least miserable country, while the U.S. takes 21st place. China follows closely in 23rd.

Venezuela is at the other end of the scale as plunging oil revenues have led to chronic shortages of food and medicine, with inflation running at 181 percent. With an index of 188.2 percent, the South American country is easily the “world’s most miserable” place. It is followed by Bosnia at 48.97 percent and South Africa with 32.9 percent.

Thailand’s unemployment rate was around 1 percent at the end of June, while its consumer price index rose 0.1 percent year-on-year in July versus a 0.4 percent 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, said Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. global market analyst Satoshi Okagawa. It encourages consumers to delay purchases until goods become cheaper, which further lowers demand. In this deflationary spiral, wages will drop, Okagawa added.

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