Times In a year of upsets, the mighty fell and the consumer rode high

In 1986, coming out on top was an experience not just for the Chicago Bears and the New York Mets but for another bunch of sometime underdogs: U.S. consumers. At long last, average Americans got measures of economic revenge for many of the indignities they had suffered in recent years at the hands of everyone from Arab oil sheiks to Wall Street's predatory speculators. For consumers, who had already been savoring three years of economic recovery, 1986 was a time of pleasant surprises and unexpected bonuses.

Every season brought something to celebrate. A breathtaking slide in oil prices made gasoline cheaper...

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