Forces under strain
U.S. combat troops in Iraq and Afghanistan are under “extraordinary” stress, which may be getting worse even as violence eases in Iraq, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said this week. Admiral Mike Mullen warned that the pressure would continue as troops are redeployed from Iraq to Afghanistan, but expressed hope that the addition of new combat brigades would ease the strain.
Record price drop
U.S. consumer prices fell by 1 percent in October, their largest one-month decline since 1947. The drop reflected plummeting gasoline prices, as well as widespread declines in the cost of clothing, cars, and airline tickets. Economists expect prices to fall still further, as consumers curtail spending in the face of accelerating unemployment. “This report clearly reflects the crunch in discretionary consumers’ spending, which is likely to persist for the foreseeable future,” said economist Ian Shepherdson.