The Consumer and the Stock Market Storm

Will consumers stand fast or batten down the hatches? The health of the U.S. economy hangs in the balance

Only two months ago, the idea of crude oil falling below $100 a barrel and sharp drop in agricultural commodity prices would have seemed like a godsend to cash-strapped consumers. Gasoline and food prices have been slow to adjust to falling commodity prices, but that's probably not what is uppermost in consumers' minds right now. They may be more worried about their access to credit—and the health of the bank they stash their savings in—as the U.S. financial crisis has escalated in recent weeks.

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