OK, I don't want this to turn into a political thread, so let's not even mention the names of any politicians! What I would like to discuss are the effects of the economic downturn that you guys and gals see in your own areas and I'll start off by telling you what I see nearby my place; in the Greater Kansas City area. I see on my street alone a total of seven active foreclosures and these are not on extravagant homes but rather ordinary middle class digs, occupied by ordinary middle-class people. In some of the commercial areas nearby, I see a 20-30% vacancy rate with very few new businesses coming in. I know of several brick-and-mortar businesses which will shut down immediately as their leases end. I see used car lots in big trouble except for those which do their own financing; the "Buy here/Pay here" places which gouge those with poor credit. We are seeing new car dealerships closing, some of which have been around for as much as a hundred years. On the other had, I see the bar and restaurant biz booming but this is farily typical of hard times. Gas prices are down today but all it will take to jack them back up is, for example, one tanker taken by pirates and destroyed or an attack on an offloading station to shoot prices through the roof. One worrisome thing I see is that most of the new businesses I see being established are funded by Small Business and Minority Business Administration loans; that is loans guarranteed by the taxpayer. Construction; both residential and commercial is at a near standstill in my area, pretty much except for projects which were underway before things started to go downhill. As an interesting sidelight, I needed a new motorcycle helmet;I live within in 20 mins of several very large bike shops and I never even thought of going "shopping". I know my head size, I know what I want, so I went straight to the 'net, found a reputable seller and ordered online and at below retail at that! Free shipping to my office. I guess what I'm interested in discussing is what you people see and how we as IMers can profit...... If this sounds a bit cold. look at it this way..... Great fortunes were made during the Depression of the 1930s and great fortunes will be made in today's recession. Someone is going to make money, so it might as well be us! Whatcha think?