Unexpected Connections: 10 Oddest Economic Indicators

Coke Is It
A Coca-Cola salesman in Nairobi, Kenya gets to work. Coke sales in Africa measure political stability. Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images

Coca-Cola is the biggest private employer in Africa and its sugary soft drinks are cheap and widely available even in the humblest rural store. Coke is so popular in Africa — more than 36 billion bottles are sold each year — that the company has identified a direct relation between Coke sales and political stability in African nations [source: The Economist].

When Kenya erupted in post-election violence in 2008, Coke sales slumped then bounced back. As the country stabilized, more delivery of the drink in rural villages and urban slums was possible. The most dramatic indicators of instability are the countries that can't even get their act together to operate a bottling plant, like Somalia and Eritrea, whose supply lines were plundered by pirates and warlords [source: The Economist].

If the Coke indicator holds true, then the political future is bright for Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe, which collectively provided a 5 percent boost in revenue for 2012 over 2011 [source: Trefis]. The Coke index doesn't function as well in North America and Western Europe, where changing tastes and higher prices are more likely to affect soft drink sales.