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Economy

In Singapore, loose clothes may point to a slack economy

Women browse for clothes in Singapore. Changes in fashion may point to fluctuations in the economy, a theory that stretches back to the 1920s and American economist George Taylor.

SINGAPORE -- Economists and market analysts are always looking for indicators of which way the economy may be heading. One long-observed correlation is that between fashions and the business cycle. Singapore provides another laboratory where this phenomenon can be seen.

     "One length long haircuts" and body-hugging clothes were all the rage with Japanese women during the economic boom of the 1980s. Those fashion trends have an echo in Singapore today. Visit any shopping district or train station, and you will come across young and not-so-young Singaporean women in snug garments. They may seem like the latest thing to a generation of workers who entered the job market in the 1990s, people with no firsthand knowledge of Japan's economic boom of the period, but we have been here before.

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