Taxi drivers as a good economic indicator

Brett Alegre-Wood
January 11, 2011

The hidden economic indicator

It's often said that taxi drivers are a good indication of the state of the economy. They have been a consistent economic indicator. It sort of runs along the same lines as London always leads the recovery and city centres recover sooner than the suburbs.

So Saturday morning on the way to watch Australia get beaten by England in the rugby with Simon and 8 other englishmen, I tried to take the train from Kings Cross to Waterloo. it was packed so I jumped into a cab instead.

On this particular day, the Lord Mayor's show was on and it had literally closed all the roads from north to south. My cabbie began complaining about, “How are we supposed to continue the crawl out of the recession if the politicians close all the roads?” When I asked him more about how he was doing, he said that the last 6 months had been good for them, that things weren't what they used to be but people are traveling again. Also, his business accounts are back as companies release their budgets.

Next – last Saturday night after falling foul of the Victoria Line closure, I jumped into a cab. Again, I asked the same question, “how are things going?” “Well they're not what they used to be but things are most definitely on the mend” came the reply. And do you think we'll double dip. “Nar, they talked about that in the 90s but we just crawled out slowly, but that kind of thing doesn't sell papers does it now?”

Next – Sunday morning I went shopping with Arlene (well, I was the porter for her purchases) on the other side of town and I ended up in a long conversation with John, a 58 year old cabbie who normally works nights, 6 days a week and has done for 30 years.

John said that things had most definitely been on the up. They have been a consistent economic indicator. “It will take some time but as usual we'll get through.” I asked his thoughts on the double dip and he discounted it totally – “The city is spending again, the tourists are back, even the Americans are coming for a look.”

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Brett Alegre-Wood


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