The Moment

1|26|09: Peoria

For all the dazzle of the digital age, never forget the essential economic undertaking: busting rocks and moving dirt. You can't have Silicon Valley without first digging up the silicon, and even the smartest building starts out as a hole in the ground. So the news that Caterpillar is laying off 5,000 workers--bringing its total of recent layoffs to 20,000--only confirms that the economic contagion is spreading, from the executive floors of high finance to the bedrock world of tractors and dump trucks.

A recession is when your neighbor loses his job, the saying goes; a depression is when you lose...

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