Business: Trying to Measure Misery

The misery index that Jimmy Carter first referred to during the 1976 campaign, and that Ronald Reagan keeps citing in his attacks on the President, was concocted during the 1973-75 recession by the late economist Arthur Okun, who called it the discomfort index. He saw it as a puckish way to spotlight the nation's economic ills. The measure is simply the sum of the inflation and jobless rates. On Election Day of 1976 the index stood at 12.8%, with inflation at 5% and unemployment at 7.8%. The rate has climbed to 20% during Carter's White House years. But does that mean...

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