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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  • Titanium Dioxide is also a key ingredient in powdered sugar donuts – to make them nice and white. I doubt it we consume enough of it that way to influence the price much, but if we cut down on pre-packaged snacks considerably it may add up to something.

    Food for … er, thought.

  • Tyler

    Having bought a house last month, I can tell you the last color I’d put on the walls is WHITE. Apartment or townhouse? Yes. House? No.

    We saw a lot of beige/tan/sand walls in our house-hunt: it seems a popular (neutral) color if you’re looking to sell. What’s the news on beige paint futures?