July 30, 2008

Economic Indicators: The Machete Index

More from Bananas, over lunch:
United Front measured its annual prosperity in standard ways:  stems exported, bunches sold, prices on the stock market board.  What might be termed its 'machete index' was more informal though a useful rule of thumb.  In the realm of big knives, United Fruit was the largest machete buyer in the world.  Each of its plantation labourers, mozos, 'peasants,' had to have one purchased from the company store.  United Fruit itself bought them from the Collins Company of Collinsville, Connecticut, the 'world's greatest machete maker.'  English and German models were cheaper but United Fruit was a down-home New England firm.  Collin's three salesmen sweated their way around the region with their heavy samples cases, jumping on and off riverboats and labouring along plantation trails.  In a good year, they sold United Fruit 36,000 machetes.  Yet in 1931 during the Depression, the company bought only 24,000, a reduction in demand of a third.
Not as popular these days as the Big Mac index but much more retro.

1 comment:

a conversationalist said...

On the household scale, I wonder what the everyday index item would be for US homes? A useful and necessary tool that helped maintain the family. Some sort of appliance perhaps?
Amount spent per month on transportation?
Perhaps phone/handset speditures?

Blog Archive