One more thing on the gas price being a part of this that people are neglecting. I'll use my wife and I for example. For round numbers sake, let's say we use 30 gallons of gas a week. The actual number is close to that. We each commute about 75 miles round trip each day plus weekend driving. Her minivan gets high 20's mpg, and my focus gets 30+. Let's look at the math.
$4/gal * 30 gal = $120/wk for gas. or $480/month
$2/gal * 30 gal = $60/wk for gas. or $240/month
$1.50/gal * 30 gal = $45/2k for gas. or $180/month
Using the high and low for us, that means we could possibly have an extra $300/month in disposable income to either spend on consumer goods, investements, mortgage, etc. We live simple and try to save money, so we are not in danger of losing our house, etc. as long as we stay employed.
For those who bought houses/cars/etc. that was closer to the limt of their income, this started their downward spiral. Yes, the insane mortgage and other purchases of items they couldn't really afford started it, but spending an extra $300/month for gas flat out destroyed them. If you don't think that a family having a few extra hundred per month to pay their mortgage or buy consumables with would make a difference to our economy, then you are mistaken. IMO, the superficial high price of gasoline pushed us over the edge.
2000 Black GT
2V with a fuel pump and some other goodies
Touched by the hand of a tuning god -- Mr. Wilson