To the ever-expanding array of unofficial economic indicators add another, more sinister example. Figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) show a disconcerting link between the incidence of fires at commercial properties - a fifth of which it estimates to have been started by the owner - and the fortunes of the economy as a whole. While claims for fire damage rose rapidly to reach record lev-els in the dark days of the early 1990s, in the first half of this year they have fallen by 43%. 'Arson', concludes the ABI, 'is clearly a recession-related crime.' What is good news for the insurers, however, will probably be less well received by that other oft-cited barometer of economic health, the construction industry.
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