Our Leading Economic Indicators

According to that

venerable, respected, serious business publication known as the New York Post , we are now in a


And according to that venerable, respected, serious

businessperson known as Alan Greenspan-along with the outgoing Clinton

administration-this simply isn’t the case.

The truth, obviously, lies somewhere in between.

In the rest of the country (now known as BushAmerica) it’s

easy to do a reality check on this controversy:

One looks for automobile-industry layoffs, union unrest, and sheriff’s

sales of pool tables, Jacuzzis, Winnebagos, sports bars, custom-made shotguns

and meatpacking plants.

But here in New York, the signs are more difficult to


On one hand, my personal

harbinger of impending economic doom-the sure-fire signal that it’s time to buy

gold, bid on one of those shotguns, and start packing away canned fruit and

vegetables-was last week’s truly frightening announcement that the Jackson 5

are planning to reunite in the near future. (My logic here being that if Tito

is feeling the pinch, London, Brussels, Düsseldorf and the Nikkei index must

surely follow.)

But on the other hand,

maybe the Jacksons are only one more example of the Back-to-the-80’s Bush

Restoration Program.

In any event, what follow here are local socio-economic

indicators-phrases and signs, both large and small-to watch for over the next

few months that may reveal that the situation is more dire than you think.

1) Johnnie Cochran starts advertising in the subway.

2) “Can I borrow your Post ?”

3) It occurs to you that checking the real estate listings

is no longer a guilty pleasure, but a destructive obsession.

4) “Sorry about the connection, but I’m trying to use up the

extra minutes on my cell plan.”

5) “Good evening, Pastis. Table for four? A half hour? No

problem. Look forward to serving you.”

6) Alain Ducasse’s pens are offered for sale on eBay.

7) “It’s a beautiful

night. Let’s cancel the car service and walk.”

8) “Does Mr. Chow make his money from the food, or the

bottled water?”

9) “It’s called recycling, precious. Your father and I are

returning the empties for the environment, not the money.”

10) Pre-theater dinner specials at the Four Seasons.

11) “You can never go wrong with Neil Simon.”

12) Free Happy Hour hors d’oeuvres at Babbo.

13) “Ladies drink free before 10 p.m. at the Hudson Hotel.”

14) “Is it my imagination, or has Donald Trump disappeared

from the newspapers?”

15) “There will always be a market for ultra-luxurious

one-bedroom apartments.”

16) Bridgehampton summer

shares are offered for sale on eBay.

17) “I’ve started to think that-even for this brokerage

house-bespoke khakis for Casual Fridays may be a little over the top.”

18) Al Gore appears in an off-Broadway play, swearing in

Hillary Clinton six nights a week.

19) A house on Lily Pond Lane appears on eBay.

20) “The personal trainer was just too invasive. I’m much

happier at the health club.”

21) New York Times

headline: “Minimalist Hotels to Redecorate.”

22) “Truthfully, I prefer to read The Times online.”

23) “I don’t need a broker. I could sell this thing myself.”

24) “I’m sure the Trefethen is terrific. But I’ll just have

the house wine.”

25) “Sure, I could get tickets. But I really do think the

Knicks are better on TV.”

26) “It’s only February, but we expect the summer rental

market to be as hot as ever.”

27) “I never invested in dot-coms.”

28) “I don’t advise it, but I can’t stop you from making an

offer below the asking price.”

29) “I picked up the check last time.”

30) “We love spending

weekends in the city.”

31) “Of course I adore your writing! You don’t really think

I came to this book party for the cheese, do you?”

32) “I’ve been thinking that maybe this summer we shouldn’t

have as many house guests. I like the quiet.”

33) “Anybody can give money to their kids’ school. I prefer

to donate my time.”

34) Two-for-one early-bird dinner specials at Le Cirque.

35) “Monthly parking available.”

36) “I hear the young editorial assistants at Condé Nast are

stealing toilet paper again.”

37) You start to lie about

how much you paid for your apartment in 1999.

38) Brazilian bikini waxing goes out of style.

39) “Instead of an extravagant Christmas party, the firm has

decided to make a donation to charity in your name.”

40) “We wanted an intimate wedding.”

41) “My new collection is about practical clothing American

women will really wear.”

42) Billy Joel’s

Greatest Hits , Vol. 18 .

43) “I hear even Ron

Perelman is cutting back. He’s staying married.”

44) Rosie’s Talk

Magazine .

45) “A check to Hillary? Yes. Chuck Schumer? Are you out of

your mind? Our Leading Economic Indicators