Unusual Indicators of an Economy’s Health


The OPECs, OECDs and the IBRDs of the world always come up with linear indicators of countries’ economic health (with equally boring names). No fun in those. So we dug up various platforms to identify certain economic indicators with positive correlation but not causation.

Heavy Metal Music

Heavy Metal

Heavy Metal sprouted originally from working-class kids in economically ravaged, deindustrialised places like Birmingham, England. Even today, it seems to be most popular among disadvantaged, alienated, working-class kids. The map tracks the number of heavy metal bands per 100,000 residents. The genre finds rare occurrence in postindustrial places of its birth, but remains insanely popular in Scandinavian countries known for their relative wealth, robust social safety nets, and incredibly high quality of life.

Appalachian Trail Hikers

Appalachian Trail

The premise being that when the going gets tough, the tough go hiking. As WSJ points out, ‘Depending on one’s level of optimism, an Appalachian Trail through-hiker is either a symbol of a jobless recovery or of a still-deepening recession.’ What it essentially means is when a lot of people are going for long treks – there are a lot of people with free time in their hands.

Coca Cola Consumption

Coca Cola

The Economist has identified a direct relation between Coca Cola ales and political stability in countries. We’re looking at you, Africa and Eastern Europe. The logic being, as a country achieves political stability, more delivery of the drink in rural areas and urban slums is possible. he most dramatic indicators of instability are the countries that can’t even get their act together to operate a bottling plant, like Somalia and Eritrea, whose supply lines were plundered by pirates and warlords.

Western Union Money Transfer

Western Union

For millions of migrant workers lacking legal documentation, Western Union is the fastest, simplest and most reliable way to send money to family and friends back home. The company is so popular with migrant workers that Western Union’s earnings reports are one of the most accurate reflections of global migration trends. In fact, it is believed Western Union records are the next best thing to census data for determining migration trends worldwide.

Cardboard Boxes


This one is pretty straight forward. If the manufacturing and sales of cardboard boxes increase, it means more people are buying various goods. These goods are shipped in cardboard boxes to stores and individuals. Thus an increase in cardboard orders signals a widespread increase in consumer activity.

Long Distance Relationships

Long Distance

(Saving the best for the last) In a tough economy job prospects are hard to come by, thus people are more inclined to relocate for a good offer even if that requires leaving your partner behind. But when the economy is going through rosier times, people are less willing to move.

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