The 5 Strangest Economic Indicators

Attention America: If you find yourself without underwear, covered in mosquitoes, running from a charging pack of alligators while trying to read a romance novel through your goopy eye lashes ... you still might be living in a recession.

Via Economix, I've stumbled upon Kiplinger's list of 10 Quirky Economic Indicators, which range from not very quirky (drop in theater attendance) to truly bizarre (more mosquitoes?). I don't like some of them, so here are the five I'll choose to monitor, somehow, in the next few months:

1. More guys going commando
As I wrote here, hardly anybody actually sees your underwear, so it's the first thing you stop buying in a recession. That creates a lot of pent-up demand, so when underwear sales level off and start to increase, you could be seeing the beginning of a serious uptick in consumer demand.

2. More cabs asking to drive Eliot Spitzer around
Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer complains (via Catherine Rampell) that the cabs in New York are all empty, because people are staying home, or using the subway, or heaven forbid, walking.

3. More mosquito bites.
Kiplinger explains: "In Maricopa County, Ariz., huge numbers of foreclosed or abandoned homes have vacant swimming pools and unattended ponds. The stagnant waters - known as green pools -- are a hotbed for mosquito breeding, say local authorities. Crews have treated more than 4,000 green pools already in 2009. During the same period in 2007, before metropolitan Phoenix's housing market collapsed, they had treated only 2,500. While most are on vacant properties, some also belong to residents who can't afford to maintain their pools and ponds."

4. More alligators! (and ferrets, and beavers, and snakes...)
Recessions mean less disposable income, which means that you don't have as much money to spend on ridiculous discrentionary items like, say, hand bags made out of alligator skin. Such is the quandary facing Savoie's Alligator Farm in Louisiana, which in May hadn't sold a hide since November. Fortunately for all animals at risk of becoming pelts or luggage, the recession has been merciful.

5. Goopier, droopier eyes.
Kiplinger says our eyes are ugly. We're not sleeping (a 2009 Sleep in America Poll found about one-third of Americans losing sleep over the recession), cosmetic surgeries are down, and Americans are overcompensating with goop. Eye-makeup sales are up almost 9 percent in the year-over-year period ending in March.

So go home (take a cab!), have a nap, buy some underwear for gods sake, and check out the whole list here.