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What the Tooth Fairy Can Tell Us About the Economy
CNBC.com | February 24, 2012 | 03:40 PM EST

There are lots of ways to measure the health of the economy—consumer spending, sentiment, productivity, home sales.

And now - teeth.

The Tooth Fairy isn't delivering like she used to.

According to The Original Tooth Fairy Poll , the average tooth bagged $2.10 under the pillow in 2011, down 17 percent from $2.52 in 2010 (and a whole lot more than I ever got!).

Delta Dental, which has conducted the poll since 1998, says this is one of the largest declines it's ever seen, and that may not be a good for the stock market. "In seven of the past 10 years, the trend in average giving has tracked with movement of the Dow Jones Industrial Average." What does this tell me? The Tooth Fairy is underwater in her mortgage and sunk all her teeth into Netflix shares last year.

The good news, the Tooth Fairy still visited 90 percent of homes in the U.S. in 2011. However, while the national average was $2.10 a tooth, Delta Dental says the most common reward was still $1, an amount the Tooth Fairy used to bring to my house when my kids were losing their teeth back in the late '90s. Fifteen years of little movement in the preferred buck-per-tooth tells me that if there was a Tooth Fairy ETF, it would not be a good investment.

Like so many other indicators, this one shows that improving the economy is like pulling teeth.

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