Skyscraper Index

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The skyscraper index, created by economist Andrew Lawrence shows a correlation between the construction of the world's tallest building and the business cycle.[1]

Predicting ability

The ability of the index to predict economic collapse is surprising. For example, the Panic of 1907 was presaged by the building of the Singer Building (completed in 1908) and the Metropolitan Life Building (completed in 1909). The skyscraper index also accurately predicted the Great Depression with the completion of 40 Wall Tower in 1929, the Chrysler Building in 1930, and the Empire State Building in 1931.

There are, however, important exceptions - the skyscraper index has not predicted all major economic collapses such as the depressions of 1920–21, 1937–38, and 1981–82 and has predicted economic collapse when downturns were relatively mild such as 1913 and the early 1970s.[1]

Completed Building Location Height Stories Economic Crisis
1908 Singer New York 612 ft. 48 Panic of 1907
1909 Metropolitan Life New York 700 ft. 50 Panic of 1907
1912 Woolworth New York 792 ft. 57 ——
1929 40 Wall Street New York 927 ft. 71 Great Depression
1930 Chrysler New York 1,046 ft. 77 Great Depression
1931 Empire State New York 1,250 ft. 102 Great Depression
1972/73 World Trade Center New York 1,368 ft. 110 1970s stagflation
1974 Sears Tower Chicago 1,450 ft. 110 1970s stagflation
1997 Petronas Tower Kuala Lumpur 1,483 ft. 88 East Asian
1997? Sathorn Unique[2] Bangkok 49 East Asian
2009 Burj Khalifa Dubai 2,717 ft. 163 The Great Recession
2012 Shanghai Shanghai 1,509 ft. 94 China?


  1. 1.0 1.1 Mark Thornton. "Skyscrapers and Business Cycles", Mises Daily, August 23, 2008. Originally appeared in the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics vol. 8, no. 1 (Spring 2005) - PDF. There is also an MP3 audio file read by the author. Referenced 2011-02-15.
  2. Hank Snaffler. "Abandoned Skyscraper – “Sathorn Unique” – Fifty Levels of Awesome Abandoned Building",, June 15, 2011. Referenced 2011-07-08.