NEW YORK: For adfolk who've seen the countless TV reruns of the 1936 movie Follow the Fleet, the middle verse of the classic dance number by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers  evokes an uneasy resonance seventy-two years on from the last Great Depression …

Before the fiddlers have fled
Before they ask us to pay the bill and while we still have the chance
Let's face the music and dance.

With fingers crossed that those lyrics won't become an industry requiem for 2009, adland's crystal balls were out in force at Monday's UBS Global Media and Communications Conference in New York.

The assembled seers – among them GroupM and ZenithOptimedia – delivered prognostications of gloom without respite.

The former sees US ad spending falling 6.2% in 2009 to $161.8 billion (€127.86bn; £110.78bn) , while GroupM predicts a decline of 3% to $157bn. Magna's indestructible Robert J Coen, however, kept his powder dry and witheld his vision of the apocalypse until later in the day.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff