This article appeared online at TheNewAmerican.com on Tuesday, March 31, 2020:
The “Waffle House Index” flashed red last week as the impact of the coronavirus shutdown really began to bite. The Waffle House restaurant chain is a cultural icon with 2,100 locations, mostly in the South. It is also a leading indicator of the health of the economy. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) uses the health of the chain as an indicator for the health of the economy as a whole.
As Craig Fugate, the former head of FEMA, expressed it this way: “If you get there and the Waffle House is closed? That’s really bad.”
The Index has three levels: Green (the restaurants are open, full, and operating with a complete menu); Yellow (they are operating on emergency power, serving only a partial menu); and Red (they are closed).
The chain has closed nearly 400 of its 2,100 restaurants, reflecting what St. Louis Fed President Jim Bullard just announced: