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Top Ten Unconventional Indicators Of The Recession

HuffPost's Eyes & Ears     First Posted: 09/05/2009 5:12 am   Updated: 05/25/2011 1:45 pm

Despite Wall Street doling out multi-million dollar raises to executives, most of the country continues to suffer from rising unemployment and a falling housing market.

In a scramble to track the economy's health, economists and financiers aren't just looking at traditional leading economic indicators -- many are also keeping a close eye on more quirky tell-tale signs. During his time as chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan famously looked toward male underwear sales, reasoning that sales for such a basic necessity would remain relatively flat unless people began to seriously count their pennies.

Other widespread -- if somewhat unscientific -- indicators of a recession include sales for movie tickets, neckties, lipstick and a host of trends that reflect how much time people are spending at home instead of out at a bar or restaurant. The top ten unconventional economic indicators in the slideshow below all point toward a deepening recession, but keep your eye on them for signs of better times.

These indicators are supposed to reflect how spending habits change during a financial crunch, but they are hardly canonized. In the case of the "Lipstick Index," Newsweek has speculated that the metric was invented by an Estée Lauder's executive as a creative publicity stunt.

Since these are all up for debate, HuffPost challenges you to come up with your own unconventional economic indicators. How do your spending habits change during hard times? After voting on our top ten surprising economic indicators, email your own suggestions to

The Underwear Index
Alan Greenspan has said he looks at men's underwear sales to gauge the health of the economy. His reasoning: the sales of such a necessity are generally pretty flat, so even the slightest change in numbers can be revealing. A survey by the global research company Mintel projects a 2.3 percent drop in sales of all men's underwear products in 2009.

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