The S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average have long been the benchmarks by which our economy’s strength is gauged, but gleaning that sort of information requires an understanding of stock-index movement, or at least access to a newspaper. Believe it or not, there are better, less nerdy ways to tell how the nation’s markets are holding up. Here are three such benchmarks one can glean simply by paying attention to his surroundings:
Number of Ironic Jukebox Selections Played at Local Bars
When the chips are up and the unemployment rate is down, people are a little more fast and loose with their cash, and round about beer four that dusty Clarence Carter album at the back of the jukebox is looking mighty hilarious. But if you’ve got no money in the bank and have made the switch from drinking PBR for style to drinking PBR because it’s cheap, you can bet your fellow bar-goers will be saving their jukebox money for songs that they actually, in earnest, would like to hear. We’ll know the worst is over when wood-box, beer soaked bar speakers are again consistently blaring Blondie’s Rapture seven times a night.
Current Ratio of Philosophy Majors to Computer Science Majors at US Colleges
Things like the P/E and Price to Book ratio of benchmark indices can give us a snapshot of overall economic expectation, but there is perhaps no better gauge of market confidence (or lack thereof) than the pragmatism of college majors. Sure when the economy’s up and business practically does itself, its easy to convince an employer how your paper on The Significance of Second-order Volitions within the Context of the Definition of the Self will help prepare you for a job programming websites. But when the belt is tight and a job actually needs to get done it gets harder to justify hiring someone who is unqualified over someone who is, say, qualified. And last I checked, unless you’re planning on starting some sort of Philosophy company, the private sector needs engineers more than it needs a debate over determinism.
Audacity of Purchasing Power Claimed by Rap Artists
Back in 1998, Master P had a tank made entirely of gold. A few years later Ludacris informed us all that he “sends small cities and states IOUs” while the Big Tymers outspokenly advocated the impulse purchasing of NFL franchises. Today, T.I. (the self-proclaimed King of the South) merely tells a woman that she can “have whatever she likes,” specifically suggesting a glass of tequila over ice; my, how the economy has fallen. Look for the markets to rebound as soon as Snoop starts rapping about his platinum submarine.