Eat Your Heart Out, Kathy Bates – We’ve Got Some Real Misery Here…

OMG, how miserable are you?

Wow, according to The U.S. Misery Index , Americans are very, very miserable … (sigh). In fact, the index, which simply combines the unemployment and inflation rates, hit a 28-year high in May, according to Paul Dales of Capital Economics.

That’s right, that level of sweet, retro sadness lands us right back in those sweet, golden days of 1983, when Reagan was president and those smashing bull stock and bond markets were in their infancy.

Aaaaah, it takes you back doesn’t it?

OK, OK, so you’re miserable, but are you miserable enough to want to smash James Caan’s ankles with a sledgehammer?

The unofficial index, first put together during the mega-inflation days of the ‘70s by economist and ex-Lyndon Johnson adviser Arthur Okun, sits at a fat, vile 12.7 — tallying up the 9.1 percent unemployment and 3.6 percent annualized inflation.

That’s right, 12.7. That gross number isn’t fit for the sweet Titanic Kathy Bates but more suited for the crazy, scary Annie Wilkes from Misery.


The combined unemployment/inflation figure shot above 10 in November ‘09 — having been under double-digits from June of ‘93 through May ‘08.

Don’t worry too much, if anything, comparing our times to 1983 would seem to support the theories of a major turnaround coming around the next corner. Then again, in the “new economy,” who knows what the heck is going on anymore?

Still, many experts say that it’s not time for all of us to go all “Annie Wilkes” just yet:

“Americans might not be quite as miserable as the Okun misery index appears to suggest,” Capital Economics’ Dales said. “And as inflation falls back, some of the gloom will lift.”

Intrigued? Sickened? For those who want to read up more on The Misery Index, either for historical or just morbid reasons, here are some good quick links: Misery Index by year, by month, by president, and the U.S. unemployment rate by year.

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  1. Andy

    June 29, 2011 at 1:39 am

    Great post Andrew. Love the subject line.

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