Bloomberg, Mar 3, 2015
Thailand and Switzerland are expected to enjoy unusually low unemployment and inflation this year
Feeling bummed about your economy? It’s time to pack your bags for Switzerland.
That’s one way to read the fate of 51 economies (including the euro area) this year, based on Bloomberg calculations of what’s known as the “misery index.” Inflation and unemployment, two factors that make consumers unhappy, are remarkably low in the 15 countries shown below, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.
While the Swiss National Bank attracted some tumultuous headlines earlier this year, the haven of ski slopes and chocolates still outshines its peers in the survey as a consumer-friendly place to live. For the country’s working-age consumers — only 3.3 percent of whom are likely to be unemployed this year — an estimated 0.9 percent drop in prices in 2015 will help cushion the blow from a surging currency. That’s enough for Switzerland to claim one of the least-sad spots in the misery index. (The lower the score, the better.)
That’s great news for an already-wealthy country. Switzerland is the fourth-richest, as measured by International Monetary Fund estimates of gross domestic product per-capita estimates for 2015.
Look to Switzerland’s north for another consumer dreamland: Norway. There, consumer prices will probably increase by a mild 2.2 percent this year, edging just slightly above the 2 percent threshold for which some major central banks worldwide aim. Joblessness is projected to be about 3.75 percent in 2015. And income? Best of any in the group, at an estimated $67,619 GDP per capita for this year.
In what may come as a surprise, the least-miserable country in our analysis is the not-so-wealthy Thailand. That’s partly thanks to an unusually low unemployment rate, currently tracking below 1 percent, that has so far failed to spur inflation. To be sure, the Land of Smiles, currently under martial law after a military coup last year, has a long way to go before it comes close to the living standards of developed economies.
Elsewhere in Asia are two more countries that, despite their territorial differences, are treating their consumers to a relatively nice standard of living.
Japan, whose battle with deflation that started in the 1990s is only starting to fade, probably will see inflation of about 1 percent this year. Joblessness, too, has shown progress: The unemployment rate is set to ease further to 3.5 percent after averaging 3.6 percent last year.
China’s relatively subdued inflation and unemployment this year will help it move up to the seventh-happiest of the bunch, two spots better than a year ago, the surveys showed.
As for the U.S., size isn’t everything. The world’s largest economy places a not-too-shabby eighth-happiest on the 2015 misery ranking, with still-elevated joblessness holding it back from medal contention. GDP per-capita will be behind only Norway and Hong Kong this year, the IMF projects.
For a more detailed look on the most miserable economies this year, check out our story from Monday.