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Unheard of, Heretofore Useless Economic Indicator Nudges Forward, Possibly Signaling Change

Posted August 3, 2009

Wall Street and European markets responded favorably this morning when an obscure indicator has increased by 300ths of one percent. The US Government Bureau of Standards, Weights and Measures announced that this previously neglected data point could potentially show signs of an economic uptick, although at this point the available data should not be taken to mean growth or contraction in any direction.

The indicator is called the net s-cart mass, and it refers to the net weight of empty shopping carts available in the nation's supermarkets and big box stores. Economists have long discussed whether empty shopping carts have any real connection to the actual economy, and the underlying research suggests that it is when these empty shopping carts are not actually empty, that is contain residual detritus from the shopping experience, i.e. discarded shopping lists, trash, etc that has a real potential impact, although no researchers up until this point have been willing to guess whether the somewhat soiled shopping carts indicate economic growth, contraction, or moral hazard. Liberal economists report that clean shopping carts suggest that shopping lists are being reused, so the economy is improving to a degree that normal folks can worry about the environment, while conservative economists argue that abandoned shopping lists and other cart trash are a sign of a people with no sense of personal or public hygiene, meaning that cluttered carts indicate a downward economic spiral.

The Obama economic team has responded that they are cautiously non-plussed. The indicator points to an economy that may be starting to improve, but only when net s-cart mass is plotted against housing starts and the number of empty nail bins at the Home Depot.

The Bureau of Standards, Weights and Measures would like to announce that said indicator referenced in the above article was in fact completely made up by our kid, who was doing some undergrad econ homework while visiting us over the weekend and was attempting to come up with a "fudge factor" for why her answer did not square with the key in the back of the book. Our apologies.



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