And just how bad are things in and around Detroit? Very bad indeed, according to last Saturday's Financial Times, which reported that General Motors, Ford and Chrysler have gone cap-in-hand to Congress for $25 billion-worth of emergency funding.
Time, you might have thought, for the car behemoths to be putting the brakes on any shows of conspicuous consumption.
Not so. The FT reported that the three company bosses, Ford's Alan Mulally, Chrysler's Robert Nardelli and GM's Rick Wagoner, travelled not so much cap-in-hand to Washington, but amid the leathered luxury of their corporate jets.
This didn't go down well with US politicians, who, according to the FT, have been excoriating the bosses over their mode of travel.
However, Diary couldn't help smiling at the unintended irony of the ad carried by the FT on the following page. It's a promotion by Netjets, the operator of business and private jets.
Headed "Making the case in person", it features a trio of briefcase-carrying executives about to climb aboard their Gulfstream.