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Taiwan's misery index lower than HK, S. Korea

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's misery index — the sum of the country's jobless and inflation rates — over the past 10 years is higher than Singapore's but lower than the figures for Hong Kong and South Korea, the Chung-Hua Institution for Economic Research (CIER,中華經濟研究院) said Wednesday.

CIER President Wu Chung-shu (吳中書) said that among Asia's four “little dragons,” Taiwan's misery index over the past decade was the third-highest at 5.85 percent, higher than Singapore's 5.2 percent and lower than Hong Kong's 6.95 percent and South Korea's 6.35 percent.

In terms of economic growth, Taiwan registered 3.98 percent, higher than South Korea's 3.63 percent, but lower than Singapore's 6.28 percent and Hong Kong's 4.53 percent.

Wu attributed Taiwan's relatively low misery index to only small fluctuations in consumer prices. The annual percentage change in Taiwan's consumer price index (CPI) over the past decade was 1.41 percent, lower than Hong Kong's 2.54 percent, South Korea's 2.9 percent and Singapore's 2.74 percent, Wu added.

The annual percentage change in a CPI is used as a measure of inflation. The CPI marks changes in the price level of a basket of consumer goods and services purchased by households. If prices go up, it is inflation. If they go down, it is deflation.

Wu said that maintaining the annual percentage change in the CPI at 1 percent is the best course, as a lower-than 1 percent change in the CPI will add deflationary pressure.

He also said that Taiwan's unemployment rate was the worst among the four places. Taiwan's jobless rate reached 3.58 percent over the last 10 years, higher than Hong Kong's 3.17 percent, South Korea's 2.71 percent and Singapore's 1.81 percent.

Wu suggested that for Taiwan's further development, the country should create an environment for innovation, including promoting liberalization, maintaining economic flexibility and vitality, strengthening the concept of value-added, reforming legal and management systems, and encouraging the integration of various other aspects such as culture, society and economy.

In addition, more has to be done to enhance efficiency, including strengthening inter-ministerial governance and the function of the Legislative Yuan, Wu said.

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