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Then and Now: A Guide to Consumption

A cheat sheet to the recent binge and the eventual purge.

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Boom Celebrity: Paris Hilton

Photo By Claus Starup

Bust Celebrity: Suze Orman

Photo By Marc Royce

For half a decade we put up with them, watching helplessly as they took over the zeitgeist: celebrities who were famous for doing nothing, restaurants whose tabs were the most noteworthy part of the experience, artists who netted millions marinating animals in formaldehyde. It was a consumerist moment like no other, and it seemed like it would never end. Until it did. Below, a cheat sheet to the recent binge and the eventual purge.

Celebrity

Boom

Paris Hilton: Because no one better encapsulated the way in which the rich got richer while people with actual talent were ignored. In a way, she was the perfect analogue to the Bush presidency: a person whose bloodline made her ascent possible, who was lampooned endlessly for her alleged vapidity and whose disapproval ratings by late 2008 hovered around 75 percent.

Bust

Suze Orman: These days, the money lady is such a frequent presence on Oprah Winfrey and Larry King, she could practically be billed as a co-host.

Business Strategy
Boom
Branding

Bust
Restructuring

Night Spot
Boom
The Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel

Bust
Momofuku Milk Bar: Where after-dinner cookies run $1.50 each if you buy half a dozen and the soft-serve ice cream is a modest (by New York standards) $4.

Growth Industry
Boom
Derivatives trading

Bust

Distressed real estate

Network
Boom

CNBC: Take it away, John Stewart! Wall Street’s unofficial mascot Jim Cramer was plugging everything from Bear Sterns to Wachovia, right before they went under. Maria Bartiromo, the network’s “money honey,” meanwhile, did a profile on Citigroup’s chairman Sanford Weill when she owned stock in the company. She denied allegations she was having an affair with Todd Thomson, the former chief of Citigroup’s wealth management unit, although she did fly all over the place with him on Citi’s corporate jet.

Bust
CNBC: Indignance is the flavor du jour, and many of the network’s newest voices seem to be gaining traction with the Republican Party faithful, who are eager to turn President Obama into the new villain of the financial crisis.


MORE Boom vs. Bust >>

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