Experts rely on dry statistics such as unemployment figures and the consumer price index to gauge where the economy is going, but there are other less serious ways to monitor our financial state. Even you can get your finger on the pulse of the economy by observing the trends you can relate to. Here are a couple of the weirdest economic indicators:
- Divorce rates: A rise in divorce rates is a good sign for the economy — it means the credit markets are opening and the economy is on the mend. The recession drives people to postpone divorce because of the expensive legal fees and inability to sell their houses.
- Nail polish: It used to be that sales of lipsticks correlated with the economy, but not so much anymore, says Leonard Lauder, Estée Lauder chairman emeritus. Women used to turn to lipsticks during the recession as an affordable pick-me-up, but have now replaced them with nail polish. In fact, sales of nail enhancers have jumped 65 percent since the first half 2008.
- Men's underwear: During a recession, men will skip out on buying underwear. This is one of the most reliable economic indicators, according to Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve.
- Hot waitresses: When there is a recession, there are more hot waitresses around due to the lack of jobs that will leverage their hotness. The New York magazine says, "In flush times, there is a robust market for hotness. Selling everything from condos to premium vodka is enhanced by proximity to pretty young people (of both sexes) who get paid for providing this service. That leaves more-punishing work, like waiting tables, to those with less striking genetic gifts."
- Miniskirts and dresses: According to the Hemline Index, when miniskirts and dresses are trending, the economy is apparently doing well. The index was developed by economist George Taylor, and the theory apparently has some credence. I can just imagine the men being slapped for trying to conduct this type of "economic research."
- Online dating: Lonely hearts abound during a recession, and more people take to sites like Match.com when the going gets tough. The site had one of its strongest quarters in 2008 when the recession was at its peak. Experts speculate that misery loves company and people love to seek other people for comfort during tough economic times.