Unusual Economic Indicators

Apparently, Obama’s top economic adviser (Larry Summers) says the US is approaching the end of recession based on the number of Google searches for the term “economic depression.” This chimes with a story I read about a few months ago (but now can’t find) saying that Google thought the recession was over due to shifts in what people were searching for (they are starting to search for luxury goods again, for example).

What are some of the other less obvious economic indicators? I always liked the story of Warren Buffet following sales of cardboard because this tracked the shipping of goods (i.e. purchases) and I’m also a fan of how difficult it is to get a taxi in the rain and how easy it is to get a table at a top restaurant on a Saturday night. Given that supermarkets like Tesco are sitting on millions of bits of data about what people are buying/have stopped buying you’d think they are in a pretty good position to judge too.

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One Response to Unusual Economic Indicators

  1. Chris Knowles says:

    Just on the predicting-using-Google (internet searches)-theme, I recently finished Click by Bill Tancer, a Hitwise exec, that deals with this subject in some depth. (see http://www.billtancer.com/).

    Whilst you always get the feeling that you are reading one long promo for the company, it’s got some interesting stories in it.

    As for indicators, I wonder if there’s any relation between lottery ticket sales and the economic health of the nation 🙂

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