A Thai newspaper recently reported that one of the country's more unusual, but effective, economic indicators is known as "Mama Noodle."
Yes, noodles tell us many things, don't they? They must be related to tea leaves and fortune cookies.
The theory goes that the worse off the economy, the more money people try to save on food. Therefore, they buy more of the cheaper commodities, ie: Mama Noodles.
I can only imagine Mama Noodles are akin to what are known around here as Ramen Noodles. I think Ramen is a brand name, but it's like Xerox used to be, a product so ubiquitous with so much of the market sewn up, everyone knows what it is.
Ramen Noodles, if you're not familiar or have never been to college, are those dried noodles packaged with salty seasoning in a foil pouch that go for about 10 cents apiece and have provided many a meal to even the most "financially challenged" college student. The Thai newspaper reported the noodles go for about 12 cents a pack there.
In college, when times were tough, we would go to the store to buy dried noodles by the case - I think they came about 12 or 24 to the case and the cases sold for about $3. It may not be the healthiest meal, what with all the salt, but if you add a little butter, man its good as a late-night snack.
It wasn't until later on that I learned that maybe I should've left some of the water in the noodles, like a soup.
Financial analysts and pontificators will use just about anything they think is effective for trying to predict changes in the economy. I'm sure some pencil-necked human calculator is on hand every time Alan Greenspan puts on his shoes just to see if he puts them on one at a time. It might indicate a spike in the price of powdered cheese futures if he puts the left one on first.
I read an article in an online publication of a British TV network that said Greenspan sits in the bath for an hour and a half every morning reading, writing, and no doubt contemplating the world's great fiscal challenges and why Ivory Soap floats.
The guy has reached such a high plateau in his career, and is generally regarded as the be all and end all of the American economy, that every time he sneezes, the Dow drops a point.
Not bad for a Jewish kid from New York that dropped out of college to play clarinet and saxophone in swing and jazz combo. I say we should use the quality of popular music as an economic indicator - it's probably pretty reflective of our at-best shaky markets.
Michael Davis covers government for the Daily Herald. His column appears on Fridays. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org .