Modern Living: Doom Boom

Hemmed in by inflation, recession, the energy crunch and rising unemployment, middle-class Americans might logically be retrenching—or even digging trenches. In fact, the economic malaise seems to have generated an extraordinary happy-woe-lucky mood. As a laid-off Manhattan construction superintendent puts it: "I could have played out my savings and played safe, but I wanted to enjoy myself. This is the last great splurge." It could be called the Doom Boom.

Over the year-end holidays, the occupancy rate of more than 27,000 rooms in hotels and motels around Florida's Disney World reached 93%—and the...

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