(Bloomberg) — The U.S. is projected to see the worst reversal of fortune this year in a ranking of global economic misery, underscoring just how much havoc the pandemic has wrought.
America fell 25 spots, from the No. 50 spot to No. 25, on Bloomberg’s Misery Index, which tallies inflation and unemployment outlooks for 60 economies. The drop comes as President Donald Trump fights for re-election while millions of Americans remain unemployed. Only Iceland, Israel, and Panama were even close to that level of deterioration in the annual rankings.
Thursday’s jobless claims, however, indicate a glimmer of improvement: Applications for U.S. unemployment benefits unexpectedly fell.
Almost all of the economies surveyed are projected to be more miserable this year amid Covid-19, with analysts expecting increased joblessness and tepid growth.
Venezuela, Argentina, South Africa, and Turkey held on to their unenviable rankings from 2019 as the world’s four most miserable economies, with Venezuela keeping status as the world’s worse for a sixth straight year. The troubled South American country continues to suffer from soaring prices, with Bloomberg’s Cafe Con Leche Index estimating a current inflation rate of 4,043%.
Thailand claimed the title of the “least miserable” economy, though the government’s unique way of tallying unemployment makes it less noteworthy than Taiwan’s two-spot improvement to No. 6 or Singapore’s bump to No. 2 on that scale.
The Bloomberg Misery Index, now in its sixth year, relies on the age-old concept that low inflation and unemployment show how good a country’s residents feel. This year’s scores are based on Bloomberg surveys of economists’ estimates for 2020 price growth and joblessness in each economy and compares those values to last year’s actual data. The index includes countries for which Bloomberg has sufficient economic forecasts.