Byline: Robert Manor
CHICAGO _ If Gulf War II plays out like Gulf War I, consumers can expects lots of sale signs in stores and auto dealerships, no need for reservations at popular restaurants, and cheap air fares to Europe.
When the elder George Bush ordered the Air Force to begin bombing Iraq 12 years ago, people stayed home to watch the news on television. For four or five weeks, people stopped much of their daily spending, avoided air travel and put off big financial decisions like buying homes.
While the war went well, the economy did not.
Eastern Airlines went bankrupt almost immediately, while other airlines offered cut-rate fares to lure frightened travelers.
Automakers shut down plants as the inventory of cars and trucks, even popular models, mounted at dealerships.
Retail sales fell sharply, although there was a brisk demand for portable radios and small TVs _ both useful for following the conflict.
And new-home sales plunged …