Cars

There was no mistaking the recession’s influence at the Detroit Auto Show earlier this month. Although the crowds have returned since last year’s somber affair, the cars themselves were a far cry from the gas-guzzling behemoths that once covered the floor of the massive convention space.

Yes, it appears change is afoot in the auto industry. Blame it on the recession, the high gas prices, or the growing eco-consciousness of society, but this year’s show featured an endless stream of hybrid, electric, and generally eco-friendly cars with lower price points than before the economic collapse…

broken gingerbread cookie sharing 200We understand why you might not want to share everything (spouses and swimsuits spring to mind). But saving a few bucks by sharing other things is turning out to be one of the year’s big trends.

Sharing-based businesses are hardly a new phenomenon–though the old fashioned term for it is “renting.” Back in July we put together a roundup of our favorites, including textbooks and movies, back in July. But more companies are jumping on the sharing-is-caring bandwagon, letting customers take temporary ownership of party dresses and eco-friendly cars. After the jump, a roundup of the newcomers…

paris-hilton-in-tiara-200There have been many sad passings in the downturn, some the results of the economy (lots of jobs, Domino magazine) others not (John Hughes). But as always, there is an upside: The bust seems to have killed off some of the more distasteful boom trends, expressions of excess that just aren’t appropriate anymore.

McMansions
All around the country, sprawling new developments sit empty, oversized homes are being foreclosed on, and home buyers are choosing—for the first time in 15 years, more normal-sized properties. A double-height great room does not a happy (or financially sound) family make.

SUVs
The McMansions of cars also boomed in the boom, when we didn’t care how much we spent for gas and were happy to tower over pathetic hippie cyclists. Wired.com says that 60 percent of the cars that have been junked through the Cash for Clunkers program are gas-guzzling Ford Explorers…

trafficIf ever there was an upside to this downturn, it just might be the easing of rush hour traffic. But for goodness sakes, we know, we know.

The Washington Post is the latest to discover that there are fewer cars on the road – drivers in the D.C. area drove 600 million fewer miles in November than in the same month a year earlier. If you’ve ever suffered the pain of Beltway traffic (around holiday time, two hours to cover 13 miles, ugh), you’re probably almost thrilled about the recession’s reckless purging of jobs to which people must commute and the gas they can’t afford.

It’s not just in D.C., as you probably well know (there’s already a growing archive of breathless stories). Last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that across the nation, 8.6 billion fewer miles were covered in January and February of this year compared to the same time last year. Rush hour traffic in major metropolitan areas fell 29% from 2007 levels…

antique-car-200Lynn Parramore looks back on the Great Depression to see the path ahead.

“God made the American restive. The American in turn and in due time got into the automobile and found it good.” –James Agee

The fascination with cars is as American as apple pie. Ever since Henry Ford’s Model T rolled off the assembly line and cars became accessible to the masses, we were hooked. By the mid-1920s, many working-class families could afford a car. By 1930, almost one in three Americans was the proud owner of an automobile.

Amid the ravages of the Recession, we’ve been hearing a lot about Chrysler, General Motors, and Ford. As the Big Three teeter on the edge of destruction, some folks are feeling waves of nostalgia, fondly remember having a Chevvy in the garage or their first time behind the wheel of a sleek Mustang.

Thinking of these cars gives us a twinge of regret.

But what about the Duesenberg, the Auburn, and the Cord?…

Recession Briefing 4.7

by Laura Rich on April 7, 2009 in News,Work

What you need to know today to survive and thrive in the recession.

Profit Loss ChartAmericans’ confidence in the economy jumped from 15% in January to 39% who felt more optimistic — even while 70% of respondents worried that someone in their household would lose their job, 40% had cut spending on luxuries and 10 percent had cut back on necessities. (New York Times)

Growing economic optimism and a strengthening U.S. dollar is impacting the price of gold, which fell 2.7% after the G-20 meeting. (Wall Street Journal)

First quarter corporate earnings reports are expected to be grim and investors are bracing themselves for the reports, which kick off today with Alcoa. (CNNMoney)

If you come across a good article or blog post about the recession pass it on.

Recession Briefing 2.16

by Sara Clemence on February 16, 2009 in Money,News

What you need to know today to survive and thrive in the recession.

anna-wintourAnna Wintour: “Value is In” (WSJ)
When the editor of Vogue rails against consumerism, the economy must be in a tailspin.

Job Losses Pose a Threat to Stability Worldwide (NY Times)
Worldwide job losses from the recession that started in the United States in December 2007 could hit a staggering 50 million by the end of 2009. High unemployment rates have led to protests in countries as varied as Latvia, Chile, Greece, Bulgaria and Iceland and contributed to strikes in Britain and France.

White House Dampens Stimulus Expectations (Reuters)
Aides warned Americans on Sunday not to expect instant miracles from the $787 billion economic stimulus bill he will sign this week, but said it would help eventually.

Read more…