Got your iPhone? Try these other recession must-haves.

Jeremi McManus read a book while waiting in line to purchase the Apple iPhone 3GS in San Francisco Friday.

Every economic slump has its must-have product. In the Depression, people snapped up cars (after 1932, anyway ). In the early 1980s, they grabbed personal computers. Today, it's smartphones.

There are good reasons for this. Smartphones make you feel brainy, organized, empowered. The perfect tool for reasoning with that angry collection agent or redirecting your friends' negative tweets with a cool onscreen compass.

Of course, this is no ordinary slump. The Worst Financial Crisis since the Great Depression has spawned the Longest Postwar Recession and a Really, Really Bad Job Market. Even '80s-tested boomers look a little green above the collar.

So you might need more than a BlackBerry or iPhone to ward off the shadows of personal bankruptcy. Here are my picks for the four other must-haves of this Great Recession. Readers may quibble about what I've left out, but no reasonable person believes you should be without:

1) A personal bank regulator. I know, the FDIC was supposed to keep an eye on the banks. And the Obama administration will greatly simplify the oversight so we'll all be able to tell whether our bank is teetering on the brink or safely dipping into the TARP, the TAF, the TALF, and the TSLF. It's just that I'd like a second opinion. Finding a good regulator is quite hard these days because federal agencies are expanding, what with the SEC, CFTC, FHFA, FOMC, and proposed entities like the CFPA (Consumer Financial Protection Agency) looking to protect their turf. Personally, I'm looking to pick up someone cheap at the OTS (Office of Thrift Supervision) because under the new plan it's LTBT (Likely To Be Toast).

2) A Chrysler. Everybody's checking them out. With zero-percent financing and many dealerships set to close and anxious to sell , the deals are too good to be true. Chryslers are the credit cards of the post-crash era. No telling, though, if this bubble will end any better than the last one. (See Fiat - Corporate history.)

3) A newspaper. OK, this is counterintuitive. No one subscribes to dailies anymore and fewer companies are printing them (see The Christian Science Monitor - Weekly). This makes it the perfect time to scoop up timeless antiques at rock-bottom prices.

4) A job. Yes, companies used to pay you to work. That's so 20th century. Now, cutting-edge management chic is that you work for free. It's happening in software and airlines.

Don't balk. It's this kind of out-of-the-box thinking that will pull us out of the current financial mess and into the promised land, a place where we shoot iPhone video of each other hard at work and free, at last, from pay.


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