To be sure, some of you may have already sensed that, what with the bursting of the housing bubble, the bank failures, insurance failures, auto company failures, massive government bailouts, burgeoning unemployment, and whatnot. But now we have something really concrete to go on.
HuffPo’s Sam Stein reminds us that Alan Greenspan liked to monitor men’s underpants (or, should I say, their sale) as an indicator of economic health:
“If you look at sales of male underpants it’s just pretty much a flat line, it hardly ever changes,” Krulwich recounted after the publishing of Greenspan’s book, “The Age Of Turbulence.” “But on those few occasions where it dips that means that men are so pinched that they are deciding not to replace underpants. And [Greenspan] said ‘that is almost always a prescient, forward impression that here comes trouble.'”
Well, it seems, underwear sales are projected to drop 2.3 percent this year! And just months ago, the same company had forcast a 2.6 percent increase! (Which might lead a more skeptical reader to wonder just how good these people are at forecasting underdrawer sales.)
Of course, I don’t know how Greenspan calibrated his BVD-o-Meter. The theory behind it seems to be that men have replaced their Fruits-of-the-Loom at a steady pace over the years. But, did he calculate this on a per-unit basis? Or are gross dollar figures an adequate proxy? After all, maybe prices are simply coming down on Jockeys? Or people have switched from 2xist to Hanes? Or perhaps the proliferation of microfiber drawers has resulted in longer life? Or, again, the underwear forecasting gurus could be wrong.
Again, I’m pretty sure the economy is in fact in rough patch. And it may be that this is causing men to wear holey underpants (not to be confused with Mitt Romney’s holy underpants). But I can’t imagine that this is the most reliable statistical indicator.