Sunday, December 28, 2008


What with the recent succession of economic crises - collapses in subprime mortgage lending, investment banking, and the stock market; the Madoff Ponzi scheme fraud; the impending bankruptcy of the Big Three automakers - you may be asking yourself, “Just how bad are things, anyway, Elisson? And how much worse can they get?”

My patented Quick ’n’ Dirty Answer is: Things are pretty bad...but they can get a whole hell of a lot worse. So far, they have not.

There was an old adage that defined a “recession” as an economic slowdown in which your neighbor lost his job, and a “depression” as one in which you lost yours. But I think I have a better way to measure the economy’s performance.

It’s the Elisson Dog-Food Index.

Go to the supermarket. You’ll see a whole section devoted to Pet Food. Whole aisles of dog food.

The economy may be bad, but it’s not disastrously bad as long as people have enough money to buy special food for their dogs.

When people can no longer afford to buy dog, that’s a recession. We’re not there yet.

When the economy gets really bad, not only do we no longer buy food for dogs, we start buying dogs for food. That’s a depression. [Warning: Link is not for the squeamish.]

The way I see it, when there is no longer a dog food section in the local Stoopid-Market, and when Korean gaejang-guk restaurants start springing up in the ’burbs in lieu of Arbeef’s, Chuck-fil-A, and McDungheap’s - that’s when it’s time to panic.

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