Editorial: Odd ways

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Updated: Nov 25, 2014 12:15 AM

Unconventional economists are coming up with some rather odd ways to predict how the economy is doing

We have established economic indicators which tell us how the global economy is doing. How about canned food and cardboard? Or instant noodles and TV programmes? Unconventional economists have studied certain patterns in consumption and purchasing trends and come up with some rather odd ways to predict how the economy is doing, or will do. Business Insider has put together a collection of some of the more popular ones and they make for interesting reading.

The Cardboard Index is based on a sharp decline in the usage of cardboard. Much of the world’s non-durable goods are shipped in cardboard containers. When cardboard-box sales increase, it means companies are shipping a greater number of goods to sell. The largest producer of cardboard boxes in Europe, Smurfit Kappa, saw top-line results fall by $269.9 million in 2008 from a year earlier, indicating that a global recession was on its way. Or how about the Garbage Indicator. This suggests that GDP should equate with the amount of garbage produced. The richer people are, or more people employed, suggests that garbage produced should be higher than when the economy is down. Similarly, canned food sales pick up during hard times, as it did in the UK in 2009. Perhaps the best index is to do with marriage and divorce. In bad economic times, divorce rates drop. Divorces can be expensive so couples are less likely to go through a divorce during a recession. Some of these can be classified as bizarre but most have some kind of logic behind them.

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