What with the succession of economic crises over the past couple of years – collapses in subprime mortgage lending, investment banking, and the stock market; the Madoff Ponzi scheme fraud; the Big Fat Greek Economic Implosion, et alia – you may be asking yourself, “Just how bad are things, anyway, Steve-O? 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: the Krodman Dog-Food Index.

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

Why, you can go to Harry’s Farmers Market (a subsidiary of Whole Paycheck Foods) where you will see what appears to be a display of exotic fancy-pants canned paté. Duck! Venison! Buffalo! Pheasant, fercryinoutloud! But before you throw that can in your Shopping-Buggy, take a closer look.

Exotic paté display at Harry’s? (Click to embiggen)

It’s dog food. Good Gawd Awmighty, dog food!

But even if you’re not one of those people with more money than brains who buy pheasant paté for Rover, you still buy dog food, right? Doesn’t matter whether it’s Eukanuba, Science Diet, Alpo, Purina Dog Chow or just plain Ken-L-Ration, it’s still special food for doggies.

The Krodman Dog Food Index says 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 food…now, 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.

Steve Krodman

Steve Krodman

Steve Krodman, AKA the Bard of Affliction, lives in the steaming suburbs of Atlanta with his wife and two cats. He is partial to good food, fine wine, tasteful literature, and Ridiculous Poetry. Most significantly, he has translated the Mr. Ed theme song into four languages.