What are your Uncommonly Clever Economic Indicators?

We all know the joke that hemlines go up when the economy improves.

As listed in Forbes, there are also such logical signs as :

  • the more trash produced by restaurants
  • the more shopping bags people carry in the mall
  • sales of denim - since people wear jeans longer when feeling pinched

Less obvious are things like:

  • sales of pink ties - when times are tough people just want to look businesslike
  • Christies auction prices of old wines

But there must be many more obscure indicators out there …


A little brainstorming to start our list -

  • sales of pink poodle leashes, clearly a luxury item
  • sales of Florida grapefruit in California and vice versa - when money’s around people feel willing to experiment with breakfast
  • calls made before night and evening rates kick in - caution to the wind!
  • number of boyfriends a girl keeps on speed dial - after all, if he’s not spending money on dates, she’s in no hurry to call back
  • the percentage of scripted vs. reality shows on major networks
  • the number of friends on Ben Bernake’s Facebook page
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I got 3 credit card come-ons in the mail this week, prosperity is around the corner

The stock price of Whole Foods Market.

I’ve found that you can tell how the economy is doing by the amount of change you find on the ground. When the economy was really rolling in the late 90s, I would find change on the ground whenever I was out walking. When the economy went bad in 2001, there wasn’t much money to be found on the ground, but there was still some. Then money started showing up more regularly again around 2003 or 2004 . A couple of years ago, it went dry again and is still dry. The economy is showing no signs of recovery based on this indicator. I might find a penny every few weeks now. At the height, I was finding dimes and quarters regularly.

That’s the trickle-down theory at work!

The one advantage of living in a drug heavy neighborhood is that I frequently find bills on the ground. Kinda hard to get a stack of 20’s in your pocket when you have the shakes.

Which brings me to my point, when the dealers start up again around here, I’ll know things are on the upswing.

I like to observe the Fast Food Service Index. The worse the economy, the better the service at fast food places, because during good times they really have to scrape the bottom of the barrel for staff.

Today’s idea: Why not measure economic activity from outer space?
The gist is to see how many lights are on at night

The shriller the network news shills schreech about the economy, the safer I feel.

My son has a personal indicator for our economic level. When money is tight I don’t fill the tank, just buy enough to reach payday.

Related to this is the number of “Help Wanted” signs observed in a given area.

Yet another indicator would be the stock price for Campbell’s Soup.

The doctor’s offices in this area just removed all the magazines from the waiting rooms. I’m betting that within 3 months, magazines that catered to the typical clientele of doctor’s offices are going to plummet. (I’m looking at you, “Parents”, “Newsweek”, and “Good Housekeeping”.)

Also, there is a strip club a couple of miles from our house. I always glance at the parking lot when we drive by. I have noticed that the parking lot doesn’t look as full as it used to.

I kinda like the hot waitress index.

The number and quality of cars in the parking lot of a fortunetelling business.

“Good boy and Nice doggie”

This is a very good indicator, I believe. I rarely eat fast food any more, but I do go to moderately priced restaurants, and I’ve noticed that the servers are very, very anxious to please. My glass of iced tea or water is promptly refilled, even if it’s still 2/3 full. I haven’t experienced a rude server for quite some time now, and in good times, I will come across a few now and then.

Closely related are the salesclerks at any moderate class business. Again, when times are good, the stores have to hire people who don’t have the best social and business skills, but when times are bad, then only the people who are very competent can find and keep a job.

CJ of http:/ /happyendingz.blogspot.com/ says to ask a carpenter or a masseuse. No pictures but NSFW

Frequency of primetime TV commercials for business or first class on transoceanic air carriers. I’m noticing more of these lately.

When I get asked when I first felt like a grownup my answer is when I stopped buying gas $5 or $10 at a time and just filled up on every trip to the gas station. When gas was near $4/gal I got back to “$10 on 4 please”.

My indicator is swag at trade shows. When times are good we get sacks and sacks full of free stuff, including fun stuff; hats and t-shirts and frisbees, and all the vendors give away chocolate, or recently baked cookies, or bottled water with their logo. When things starte to get lean the logos go onto tape measures and pens that we can use in our shops, and not everyone has them. Also the candy vats become bowls of starlight mints and generic hard candy…no chocolate.

This year? The trade show was cancelled.

My husband and I had gone a few times to a restarant called Steak & Ale. The last time we ate there I remaked that they must have been having money troubles because the usual crumbled bleu cheese was not on the salad bar. Within a couple of days they were in the paper as part of a restaurant chain declaring bankruptcy.

Also, the man who cuts my hair says when the economy is bad a lot of his clients stop coloring their hair.

The prevalence of teen focused music on the charts. The worse times are, the less money parents have to give kids to buy CDs.