For a while, it looked like the only thing that recession-ridden Washington area was going to have a lot of was numbers. Last summer, economists at Richmond-based Crestar Financial Corp. began work on an economic index for the Washington area, a set of statistics designed to describe and predict the health of the local economy.

In September, the Greater Washington Research Center and the Greater Washington Board of Trade announced that they, too, would jointly produce an economic index for the region.

Last month William C. Harris, president of the greater Washington region for Crestar Bank, became president of the Washington Board of Trade.

Now, there's only one index, that of the research center and the board of trade.

Crestar has quietly ceased work on its figures. Harris said it "didn't make a whole lot of sense" for the two entities to be putting out similar indexes. He admits with a chuckle that there is a "good likelihood" both figures would have been produced had he not assumed the helm of the area's leading business organization (he's also on the board of the research center).

But, Harris points out, Crestar is providing technical advice for the new index. And the bank has saved some effort in the process.

The index, meanwhile, makes its debut next month. The early word is it will show the local economy has been declining since early last year.