In the 1970's, economist Arthur Okun, a former adviser to President Lyndon Johnson, coined a concept known as the "Misery Index" (MI). At that time, the MI was the sum of the existing unemployment rate plus the rate of inflation. Since higher rates of either are considered unwelcome, a larger MI was considered a decent way to assess the condition of the U.S. Economy.
Using Okun's definition, the MI peaked in 1980 at 20.76,, the final year of the Carter Admistration. By contrast, the trough in misery took place in 1953, during the Eisenhower Administration at 3.74. In more modern times, the Clinton Administration recorded a very low 6.05 in 1998. As of the last year reported, 2008, the MI stood at 9.68.
Now, Moody's, a highly recognized credit rating agency, has developed a NEW method of computing "misery". Moody's metric adds the country's fiscal deficit and its unemployment rate. The results just released are STUNNING!
Using Moody's own current numbers, the United States rates as the EIGHTH WORST in the world, one step below ICELAND! The absolute most miserable countries include Spain, Latvia, Ireland and Greece.
Forbes has joined the "misery" party, too, and has come up with its own "Misery Measure" using it to rate various American cities. Forbes' methodology takes into account 6 factors including commute times, weather and crime.
Using the Forbes approach, Detroit rates as America's most miserable city, with sister city Flint ranked third. New York comes in at number 4, while Los Angeles is rated 6th. (No wonder I'm so grouchy!)
According to Forbes, the greatest surprise was Charlotte, North Carolina which came in 9th. It scored the worst in violent crime and scored in the bottom half of all six categories.
But, as they say "Misery Loves Company"!! Therefore, we should all be pretty damn happy!
As to me personally, I am not in the least bit miserable even if I may come across as grouchy. I would welcome your comments or questions in the section below.