Through much of the day Wall Street watchers reflected the gloom as stocks fell across industries.
Homebuilder Toll Brothers, computer giant IBM, and coffee maker Starbucks all slid.
So did GM, its shares touching a 65-year low.
The carmaker announced 1,900 more factory layoffs, fueling debate over whether transition in Washington will bring Detroit up to 50 billion dollars in new loans.
"If we don't help the automakers, we could see millions of lost jobs so that everyone's job is at risk," Economy.com's Mark Zandi said.
Pain is already felt in Wilmington Ohio where carrier DHL's pullout means at least 7,000 jobs gone.
"There are people who are likely to become very discouraged, and some may become depressed," Ohio Governor Ted Strickland, said.
New help is aimed at homeowners.
The government and mortgage lenders announced a plan to speed up refinancing help to slow foreclosures.
"The program's target the highest risk borrowers, and have not filed for bankruptcy," James Lockhart with the Federal Housing Finance Agency, said.
Money worries point to weak sales this holiday season.
Retailers expect the worst in 22 years, Americans in no mood to shop.
"Instead of calling it a Black Friday, we might call it Red Friday, because it's much more difficult to get shoppers through their doors," Citigroup's Deb Weinswig, said.
Many stores are already promoting Christmas and slashing prices to ring up sales even at a loss.