The global recession manifests itself in big and small ways, most gloomy, some quirky and often reflecting the inventive human spirit. Here is a look at some signs of the times.
Watch the pennies
In a southern England town families hit by the financial crisis put a pound store out of business by flocking to a 99 pence shop that opened across the road. The Pound World in Poole saw its earnings plummet by 70 percent and was forced to close within weeks of 99p Stores launching on the other side of the High Street. "It's funny to think a shop can close down because of a penny difference, I suppose it's a sign of the times," customer David Fitzpatrick said.
Laid off Mondays
The Delancey bar and nightclub in New York City's Manhattan has designated a special night out: "Laid off Mondays." It offers two-for-one drinks all night and a free shot of tequila at midnight "for everyone with proof of unemployment."
A Catholic priest in Nashville, Tennessee, couldn't wait for the U.S. government's promised stimulus plan to help his struggling parishioners, so he started his own. Rev. Joseph Breen of St. Edward church handed out more than US$100,000 from reserve funds and donations he had received for benevolent purposes. He gave the money to families of children attending the local school, at US$250 per child. "I told them it's their money - use it as they like," Breen said.
A Chilean businessman is offering an option on a copper and gold deposit in the Atacama region at a bargain price. Chile is the world's No.1 copper producer, and prices have plunged around 65 percent since hitting a high in July. Alvaro Urzua offered to sell the option for US$500,000, down from its pre-crisis tag of US$3 million.
After some cash-strapped people canceled places on a Caribbean cruise, P&O filled the seats with last-minute bargain hunters. A "them and us" mentality quickly emerged, The Times of London reported, as some of the late-comers were not versed in cruising etiquette. A brawl between two British families broke out over who was drinking the better champagne, children threw food at stewards and the captain was booed when he tried to count down to midnight on New Year's Eve, said disgruntled passengers.