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Byline: Jamie Butters
Oct. 16--While bad news keeps piling up against the U.S. economy, the auto industry has a buoy that may keep it from sinking as far as it did in the last recession.
Roughly three times as many people are leasing cars now than during the Persian Gulf War recession. And that means hundreds of thousands of potential new-car customers have no choice but to visit dealer showrooms each month as their leases expire.
With a recession looming, most of them would delay a new-vehicle decision by a year or two if their leases were not expiring, said Art Spinella, vice president of CNW Research in Bandon, Ore.
"They pretty much buy …