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The Economy in Perspective

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Les Misérables … A few decades ago, during a period of slow economic growth and high inflation, the economist author Okun added together the unemployment and inflation rates and dubbed the sum the Misery Index. Okun, a keen marketer of economic concepts, recognized the communication value of having a quick and dirty indicator of economic conditions at one's disposal. In 1960, the Misery Index stood at 7.2%; in 1970 at 10.6%; in 1980 at 20.6%; in 1990 at 10.9%; and today it registers about 8.2%. With so much misery having been wrung out of the economy lately, you might think people would be fairly pleasant about the subject, if not borderline blissful.

Suggested citation: “The Economy in Perspective,” Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Economic Trends, no. 96-10, pp. 01, 10.01.1996.

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