Jamie Dornan, Calvin Klein Underwear

Jamie Dornan in the Fall '09 Calvin Klein Underwear campaign. Photo courtesy of Calvin Klein

The latest men's underwear sales numbers have reported a 4.7% increase for the first half of the year, reports WWD. Could this be a sign of a "briefer" recession?

While this figure may not be as impressive as, say, Jamie Dornan's physique in the Calvin Klein Underwear campaign (right), it does bode well for the economy, that is, if Alan Greenspan's hypothesis is correct.

The former chairman of the Federal Reserve Board famously started tracking men's underwear sales 15 years ago because he believed it predicted consumer spending, the site reports.

Men's underwear sales figures almost never move because it's a necessity and when they do drop "that means that men are so pinched and they are deciding not to replace underpants," CBS reporter Robert Krulwich recalled on interviewing Greenspan on his "briefonomics" theory years ago, cites the source.

The NPD Group, who reported the sales figures, agrees with the underwear theory. "Underwear does follow a consistent pattern...To me, these strong figures mean we are nearing the end of the recession, and that it is not going to be as long or as deep as some feared," Marshal Cohen, chief analyst for NPD, tells the site.

But even if men are over the low point of threadbare skivvies, actual clothing has a long way to go. Menswear sales fell 5.2% over the same period.

Keeping tabs on the economy? Read more on how retailers are dealing with the recession here.