Bottom Dollar

ROSS D. FRANKLIN / AP

HAUNTED HOUSE: Property and credit woes will crimp U.S. consumer spending, a key prop of the global economy

Even a month ago, the global economy seemed poised to weather the U.S. sub-prime crisis with relative aplomb. But, suddenly, something approaching panic has gripped the world's financial community. The headlines are grim. The U.S. housing slump is worsening. Banking giants such as Merrill Lynch and Citigroup are posting record losses. The U.S. dollar is getting pounded by the British pound — and virtually every other currency. Oil has run up as high as $98 per bbl., and gold — the traditional doomsday investment — has topped $800, its highest level since the early 1980s.

But despite the...

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