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Visualizing the Most Miserable Countries in the World

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Presented by: Texas Precious Metals

Visualizing the Most Miserable Countries in the World

Visualizing the Most Miserable Countries in the World

The Money Project is an ongoing collaboration between Visual Capitalist and Texas Precious Metals that seeks to use intuitive visualizations to explore the origins, nature, and use of money.

Every year, the Cato Institute publishes a list of the world’s most “miserable countries” by using a simple economic formula to calculate the scores. Described as a Misery Index, the tally for each country can be found by adding the unemployment rate, inflation, and lending rate together, and then subtracting the change in real GDP per capita.

Disaster in Venezuela

According to the think tank, countries with misery scores over 20 are “ripe for reform”. If that’s true, then socialist Venezuela is way overdue.

The troubled nation finished with a misery score of 214.9, the highest marker in 2015 by far. Unfortunately, the number is not looking better for this year, as the IMF has projected that hyperinflation will top 720% by the end of 2016. For the average Venezuelan, that means that food staples and other necessities will be doubling in price every four months.

Hyperinflation has taken its toll on citizens already. Three years ago, one US dollar could buy four Venezuelan bolivars. Today, one dollar can buy more than 1,000 bolivars on the black market. If the inflation rate keeps accelerating, the situation could approach a similar trajectory to hyperinflation in Weimar Germany, where rates eventually catapulted to one trillion percent after six years.

While hyperinflation is certainly one of Venezuela’s biggest concerns, the nation has also been short on luck lately. The Zika virus has hit the country hard, and the oil crash has created political, economic, and social tensions in a nation that depends on oil exports to balance the budget. Three in four Venezuelans have fallen into poverty, and the country’s GDP is expected to contract 8% in 2016.

Venezuelans are now facing dire shortages for many necessities, including power. Droughts have caused mayhem on the country’s hydro reservoirs, making blackouts common and widespread. Food, medical supplies, and toilet paper are in short supply, and even beer production has been shut down.

Key Stats:

  • Approval Rating of Nicolas Maduro: 26.8%
  • People in poverty: 76%
  • Oil exports, as a percent of total revenue: 96%
  • Homicides per capita: 2nd highest in world
  • Good shortages: Power, medical supplies, food, toilet paper, beer
  • Fiscal deficit: 20% of GDP

Recent measures taken to dampen the crisis in Venezuela have been bold.

The government has moved entire time zones while reducing the work week of public sector workers to try and work around power deficiencies. Meanwhile, minimum wage earners have been given a 30% raise to keep up with inflation.

However, the crisis may be coming to a head. A recent survey shows that 87% of Venezuelans do not have enough money to purchase enough food to meet their needs, and people are getting restless.

In early May, the opposition party submitted a list 1.85 million signatures to the electoral commission to seek a recall referendum against President Nicolas Maduro. Days after the submission, the leader of an opposition party was found dead after being shot in the head.

Unless the country gets ruled with an iron fist, the level of misery can only reach a certain point before the people take decisive action.

About the Money Project

The Money Project aims to use intuitive visualizations to explore ideas around the very concept of money itself. Founded in 2015 by Visual Capitalist and Texas Precious Metals, the Money Project will look at the evolving nature of money, and will try to answer the difficult questions that prevent us from truly understanding the role that money plays in finance, investments, and accumulating wealth.

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Economy

The Bloc Effect: International Trade with Geopolitical Allies on the Rise

Rising geopolitical tensions are shaping the future of international trade, but what is the effect on trading among G7 and BRICS countries?

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Map showing the change in the share of a country’s exports going to their own trading blocs from 2018 to 2023.

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The following content is sponsored by The Hinrich Foundation

The Bloc Effect: International Trade with Allies on the Rise

International trade has become increasingly fragmented over the last five years as countries have shifted to trading more with their geopolitical allies.

This graphic from The Hinrich Foundation, the first in a three-part series covering the future of trade, provides visual context to the growing divide in trade in G7 and pre-expansion BRICS countries, which are used as proxies for geopolitical blocs.  

Trade Shifts in G7 and BRICS Countries

This analysis uses IMF data to examine differences in shares of exports within and between trading blocs from 2018 to 2023. For example, we looked at the percentage of China’s exports with other BRICS members as well as with G7 members to see how these proportions shifted in percentage points (pp) over time.

Countries traded nearly $270 billion more with allies in 2023 compared to 2018. This shift came at the expense of trade with rival blocs, which saw a decline of $314 billion.

CountryChange in Exports Within Bloc (pp)Change in Exports With Other Bloc (pp)
🇮🇳 India0.03.9
🇷🇺 Russia0.7-3.8
🇮🇹 Italy0.8-0.7
🇨🇦 Canada0.9-0.7
🇫🇷 France1.0-1.1
🇪🇺 EU1.1-1.5
🇩🇪 Germany1.4-2.1
🇿🇦 South Africa1.51.5
🇺🇸 U.S.1.6-0.4
🇯🇵 Japan2.0-1.7
🇨🇳 China2.1-5.2
🇧🇷 Brazil3.7-3.3
🇬🇧 UK10.20.5

All shifts reported are in percentage points. For example, the EU saw its share of exports to G7 countries rise from 74.3% in 2018 to 75.4% in 2023, which equates to a 1.1 percentage point increase. 

The UK saw the largest uptick in trading with other countries within the G7 (+10.2 percentage points), namely the EU, as the post-Brexit trade slump to the region recovered. 

Meanwhile, the U.S.-China trade dispute caused China’s share of exports to the G7 to fall by 5.2 percentage points from 2018 to 2023, the largest decline in our sample set. In fact, partly as a result of the conflict, the U.S. has by far the highest number of harmful tariffs in place. 

The Russia-Ukraine War and ensuing sanctions by the West contributed to Russia’s share of exports to the G7 falling by 3.8 percentage points over the same timeframe.  

India, South Africa, and the UK bucked the trend and continued to witness advances in exports with the opposing bloc. 

Average Trade Shifts of G7 and BRICS Blocs

Though results varied significantly on a country-by-country basis, the broader trend towards favoring geopolitical allies in international trade is clear.

BlocChange in Exports Within Bloc (pp)Change in Exports With Other Bloc (pp)
Average2.1-1.1
BRICS1.6-1.4
G7 incl. EU2.4-1.0

Overall, BRICS countries saw a larger shift away from exports with the other bloc, while for G7 countries the shift within their own bloc was more pronounced. This implies that though BRICS countries are trading less with the G7, they are relying more on trade partners outside their bloc to make up for the lost G7 share. 

A Global Shift in International Trade and Geopolitical Proximity

The movement towards strengthening trade relations based on geopolitical proximity is a global trend. 

The United Nations categorizes countries along a scale of geopolitical proximity based on UN voting records.

According to the organization’s analysis, international trade between geopolitically close countries rose from the first quarter of 2022 (when Russia first invaded Ukraine) to the third quarter of 2023 by over 6%. Conversely, trade with geopolitically distant countries declined.  

The second piece in this series will explore China’s gradual move away from using the U.S. dollar in trade settlements.

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Visit the Hinrich Foundation to learn more about the future of geopolitical trade

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