We’re not imagining it. I’m not going to interject my opinion until the end of this list because the following items speak for themselves:

1) As of three weeks ago, unemployment in Detroit proper was at 22%. The marker for “depression” is 25% Michigan was at 12%. People in Vail are crying because they’re up to 4.3%.

2) Banks have been retroactively reducing home equity lines of credit based on newly devalued home prices. In Michigan, Chase Bank has devalued property seemingly across the board by about 30%. Your line of credit may go from $200,000 to $140,000 overnight. You may find you are suddenly maxxing out on your credit without notice.

3) Credit cards are hiking up interest rates just because. Citi raised my interest rate from 8.9% t0 19.99%. When I called to ask if it was something I did, they said, “No – you have an outstanding payment history. We’re doing this across the board”. Many cards are also reducing credit limits out of the blue as well. I understand they want to reduce their liability, but it’s creating more problems.

4) The economy has finally affected the Vail Valley with 1000+ foreclosures on the books, but rents continue to rise by 10-25% because the area is still short thousands of units of affordable housing. My girlfriend is a bank manager and has confirmed that they are turning down the majority of the loan applications due to the much more stringent requirements.

5) Insurance companies like Aetna, AutoOwners, etc., are “holding” money: taking much longer to pay out for claims or dragging the process out until customers are willing to settle.

6) Family pets, mostly dogs, are being found abandoned in homes in which people have foreclosed on or been evicted from.

7) Retirement funds from decades of individual and group plan savings have dwindled to half or less of their sizes.

8) Everywhere I go I see businesses that have shut down or struggling.

There’s more of course.

I am actually the family optimist, but I strongly feel things will get substantively worse before they get better. Why? Because each new day brings news of more layoffs, businesses filing for bankruptcy, ponzi schemes and mismanaged corporations.

People without jobs can’t find work. People without homes can’t buy new ones. Banks aren’t lending. New jobs have not materialized yet and the repercussions of all the lay-offs, business closings and corruption are still fanning out across our country at all socio-economic levels.

The lucky ones are the people who can lay low and ride it out. But “it” may still take at least 3-5 years.

Here are two little things that caused a lift of the eyebrow:

    -Barnes & Nobles is now enforcing a new return policy: only 14 days and only with a receipt. No store credit, returns or exchanges after 14 days period.

    -Costco in the Vail Valley has removed their selection of upscale cheese. We’re talking about the Vail Valley.

Here’s an item of irony. My husband says that Vail Resorts has been visibly affected in the following ways:

    -The company is restricting overtime for employees.

    -Clients who used to spend $5000+ a day at the resort are now spending $1000/day.