EXPERIENCE SPEAKS: WATCH FOR DEPRESSION

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The new millenium is upon us and brings with it a plethora of differences over a decade ago: Booming e-commerce, abundant Y2K issues, get-rich-quick stock market dabblers and teen-agers who never experienced a down economy. All of these are factors, experts say, why any potentially approaching down economy will not affect us the same as it did in the late 1980s:

* "In the wake of Y2K we'll just sort of come out of all this in a generally depressed state," says Ira Matathia, CEO of Brand Futures Group.

"When we hit January we'll go 'Hmmm, this doesn't feel any different than two weeks ago.' This will create a sort of post-millennial depression and people will just be sluggish in the first and second quarter. Many commodities will probably have been oversold -- sanitary napkins, cases of water, dog food. . .There will be a conscious effort by people to put off that [computer] purchase until we get over the Y2K hump."

* "If there's a downturn in the economy I think you'll see Compaq, Dell and Gateway continue to do well. It will only hurt those companies, like IBM and Packard Bell, which can't function in a regular economy," says Tom Rhinelander, senior analyst at Forrester Research. "It's not like going to cheaper paper towels."

* "The consumer generation most likely to be alienated by a downturn in the economy are teen-agers," says Yankelovich Partners CEO J. Walker Smith. "Teens today might be affected because they never grew up in anything but a booming economy. . . Everything true a decade ago is not true now. The Echo-Boom generation, or Generation Y, they will probably be the ones to suffer some."

* "It sounds romantic that in a bad economy people will trade down, but that's not the case with beers," says Robert Weinberg of the Beer Industry Research Program. "There will be a tendency for people to reward themselves by drinking

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