On a Friday in late September of 2008, I used my three-hour drive home from New York City to call a group of close friends who owned jewelry stores and warn them that I was seeing extraordinary signs of an impending economic collapse, causing me to re-evaluate likely forecasts of Christmas sales in their stores. One of them chided me for being overly pessimistic, but promised to poll a group of about a dozen friends with whom she was having a getaway weekend to see how they were feeling about Christmas. She didn’t wait until Monday to report her findings. She actually called me in a panic that Saturday night to report that to her extreme alarm, every single one of them had simultaneously decided to put a halt on “extravagant” (read: Jewelry) Christmas purchases. Her subsequent sales that December were down over 40 percent, and average independent jewelry store sales were down about 35 percent nationally.