Bracing for a Recession

Consumers drive the U.S. economy. But we're maxed out on our debt, and the good times may be coming to an end

Carlos Osorio / AP

It's the day after Thanksgiving at Aventura Mall, north of Miami, and David Weinberg is worrying about the economy. "People are underestimating the downturn in the housing market in Florida and are spending based on home equity," says the accountant from nearby Pembroke Pines, Fla. "We have not seen the worst of it yet." In light of these looming troubles, Weinberg, at the mall with his wife and two young kids, says he'd like to rein in spending this holiday season. "But," he adds, "I'm not always in control."

Meet the American consumer of late 2007. Sure, he's worried. Apart from...

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