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Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

It's generated fewer headlines in recent years, but not that long ago the trash index was all the rage. The idea, popularized by economist Michael McDonough, posits that U.S. GDP growth is tightly correlated to the change in collection of trash.

The bottom line: More trash is good. It means people are throwing out old things to make way for new ones and that developers are building new things and disposing of the old, as McDonough explained to Marketplace in 2012.

According to Bloomberg, the index was incredibly accurate between 2001 and 2010, there was an 82.4% correlation between flow of trash and the economy.

What we're hearing: Jim Fish, CEO of Waste Management, says that right now the trash is saying good things.

"I mean, we all know there's a recession coming at some point, we just don’t know when. And 2009 was a bit different than the normal recession because it was so driven by housing.
"And so, our business really on the housing side has not returned to where it was in 2009.
"But, when we look at the indicators that might lead us to believe that a recession is on the horizon, the best indicators for us are our volume numbers .... We tend to be more of a lagging indicator than a leading indicator. But, those tend to be somewhat leading. And all of those look strong right now and that carries over into January when we looked at our volume numbers ... the good news is right now we're not seeing that softening that's been talked about over the last few months."
— Jim Fish, CEO of Waste Management, on the company's earnings call Thursday

Waste Management on Thursday reported fourth-quarter profit of $531 million, with net income of $1.24 per share and revenue of $3.84 billion, topping Wall Street expectations.

Go deeper

Updated 22 mins ago - Politics & Policy

House passes George Floyd Justice in Policing Act

Photo: Stephen Maturen via Getty Images

The House voted 220 to 212 on Wednesday evening to pass a policing bill named for George Floyd, the Black man whose death in Minneapolis last year led to nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Why it matters: The legislation overhauls qualified immunity for police officers, bans chokeholds at the federal level, prohibits no-knock warrants in federal drug cases and outlaws racial profiling.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate Republicans plan to exact pain before COVID relief vote

Sen. Ron Johnson. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Republicans are demanding a full, 600-page bill reading — and painful, multi-hour "vote-a-rama" — as Democrats forge ahead with their plan to pass President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package.

Why it matters: The procedural war is aimed at forcing Democrats to defend several parts the GOP considers unnecessary and partisan. While the process won't substantially impact the final version of the mammoth bill, it'll provide plenty of ammunition for future campaign messaging.

The new grifters: outrage profiteers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As Republicans lost the Senate and narrowly missed retaking the House, millions of dollars in grassroots donations were diverted to a handful of 2020 congressional campaigns challenging high-profile Democrats that, realistically, were never going to succeed.

Why it matters: Call it the outrage-industrial complex. Slick fundraising consultants market candidates contesting some of their party’s most reviled opponents. Well-meaning donors pour money into dead-end campaigns instead of competitive contests. The only winner is the consultants.