Latvian prostitutes as economic recovery indicator
Signs pointing to an end to the global recession are few as the real estate market and consumer spending give little away. But there's a unique index which, some say, is a much better barometer - the sex industry.
So far it’s been a doleful song for Latvia, as the fastest growing economy in the EU just over a year ago has slid to the bottom of the list in the past six months.
It has the highest unemployment after Spain, and its GDP dropped almost 20 per cent, a rate comparable to that of America in the Great Depression.
Even relatively well-off Riga, which keeps afloat thanks to tourists, is bracing itself for one of the harshest winters on record.
“We’re not giving money to people to pay for the rent, for the apartment, but we will be forced to distribute food packages between those who really need it, because it will be the highest priority during the winter," Nil Ushakov, Riga’s mayor, said.
While the country is battling with recession, observers outside Latvia are scanning its shattered economy for some hint of when the global crisis will end.