Some economists go to unprecedented lengths to prove a point and they often come up with weird economic indicators for it. There are many odd indicators that are arguably more reliable than some of the data that you frequently get from governments. Many investors use them to guide their views on the economy. And sometimes, they are spot on. Here are the top 25 sexiest, creepiest and craziest global economic indicators.
25| The First Date Indicator
The Concept: People seek out others for first dates when the economy turns down and sentiment falls (they’re lonely!).
The Proof: Match.com notices strong patterns on its site that correspond to economic downturns. The company said the fourth quarter of 2008 was its busiest period in seven years (its second busiest weekend ever came when the Dow dropped to five-year lows in November 2008). Match said traffic also spiked after the Sept. 11 attacks.
24| Consumer Consumption Of Beer Index
The Concept: Won’t be able to make it out to that bar after work? Apparently you aren’t alone. Consumers often try to save money by drinking at home, sending pub sales and jobs into a tizzy.
The Proof: In Europe, 73% of jobs tied to the beer industry are outside breweries. These include jobs at bars and restaurants. From 2008 through 2010, employment in the beer industry fell 12% versus 2% for Europe as a whole. Surely austerity measures feel much harder without that drink.
23| The Plastic Surgery Indicator
The Concept: People stop getting cosmetic surgery as the economy begins to waver. The reasons: 1. If job cuts are coming, people want to save for futures needs, 2. Even if job cuts are not coming, employees don’t want to take off work to stay in the best grace of their bosses.
The Proof: Plastic surgery revenue in the U.S. declined 9 percent in 2008 as the economy headed into contraction, with the American Society of Plastic Surgeons expressly citing the bad economy.
22| Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Cover Indicator
The Concept: The nationality of the woman chosen for Sports Illustrated’s annual swim shoot issue dictates how American markets will perform over the year. If an American is chosen, the concept goes, the S&P 500 will outperform historical returns.
The Proof: Russian born Irina Shayk appeared on the 2011 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover, and markets have had difficulty remaining in the green since the year’s open.
21| The High Heel Index
The Concept: “Usually, in an economic downturn, heels go up and stay up – as consumers turn to more flamboyant fashions as a means of fantasy and escape,” IBM’s Dr. Trevor Davis said.
The Proof: During the 1920s low flapper shoes gave way to high pumps during the Depression, while stilettos surged over the dot-com boom. The most recent case shows some deviation. While dizzying heel heights were the talk over the 2008-09 crisis, they came down even as the U.S. economy sputtered at the end of 2010 into 2011.
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