The white-paint index


A few weeks ago, men’s underwear was cited as an economic indicator. Today we have a new category: White paint.

Here’s the theory:

The price of Titanium Dioxide, a key ingredient of white paint, fell 7.3 percent over the 12 months ending in August, the Labor Department reported today. That would indicate that the demand for white paint — used on cars and many consumer goods, of course — is softening.

“I think the white paint index is signaling that the manufacturing recovery may be short-lived,” said Richard Yamarone, economist at Argus Research.

It also spells bad news for real estate. When people are buying homes, one of the first things they do is paint the walls white.

As with everything else, economists appear to be surprised by the falling index. Just a few months ago, an increase in the price had them projecting a significant recovery.

In other economic news, Federal Reserve Board Chair Ben Bernanke says the recession is likely over.

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