In the wake of the spectacular collapse of Bear Stearns and another negative economic reading from the Fed -- industrial production dropped 0.5% in February, it was reported Monday -- U.S. companies are hunkering down for what could amount to a lengthy downturn. Tight credit is making it harder for companies to make acquisitions, add locations or launch new innovations, experts say. On the upside, manufacturers such as Ariens Co. are benefiting from lower interest rates on their bank loans.

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