U.S. consumers dramatically trimmed their spending in the third quarter, contributing to the sharpest contraction in the U.S. economy in seven years. To help cushion the global recession that many are now predicting, Japan and Germany are pledging to spend billions of dollars and central banks around the world are cutting interest rates. "A harsh storm seen only once in 100 years is raging," Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso said at a news conference.

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