The following editorial appeared in the Chicago Tribune on Wednesday, 12-20:
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As the holidays draw near, the signs are everywhere _ no, not of Christmas but of a rapidly cooling economy. The predominant sign this season reads "For sale, prices slashed" as desperate merchants plead with consumers to part with their money.
After years of spending freely and fueling the longest boom in U.S. history, Americans have turned skittish about the future and closed their wallets. Consumer spending makes up two-thirds of the economy, so there is some concern that, rather than the gradual slowdown the Federal Reserve Board hoped it was engineering, the …