The worsening economy, ongoing credit crunch and see-sawing stock market have everyone understandably worried about what the future holds. As we try to grapple with the potential fallout and its impact on our industry, our businesses and our individual jobs, examining both the past and present may be instructive.

The most recent economic downturn, precipitated by the dotcom bust, began with the Nasdaq correction in March 2000 and really hit its stride by the end of the year. A look back at industry surveys by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Internet Advertising Bureau shows that the decline in ad revenues -- a "trailing indicator," as many analysts have pointed out -- did not begin in earnest until the first quarter of 2001, when budget cuts started to go into effect. Online ad spending then proceeded to drop quarter over quarter and year over year for the remainder of 2001 and all the way through the third quarter of 2002, posting a 12 percent decrease for 2001 and a 16 percent fall for 2002.

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