While scanning the Wall Street Journal for an article I never could find on "shrewd spending cuts" that will help the oil and gas industry survive the downturn, I scanned the "What's News" section on the front page. Here are just a few of the delightful headlines: "State unemployment rates increased across the country last month." "Yahoo warned that the weak advertising market will hurt sales." "The UK will guarantee more than $2.9 billion in loans to support the country's ailing audo industry." "A Los Angeles man, apparently distraught over job problems, killed his wife and five children before taking his own life." In our industry, the news has been similarly grim. After stating rather optimistically in my January column that oil companies might learn from their past mistakes and not lay a bunch of people off this time around, news of layoffs in the energy sector has become almost a daily event. And fourth-quarter earnings are beginning to be reported, indicating that the industry is already facing financial difficulties. ConocoPhillips had the worst news, reporting a lost of $31.76 billion in the fourth quarter, while revenue dropped 16% to $44.5 billion. Officials blamed the write-downs of several investments made in better times. Royal Dutch Shell reported its first quarterly decline in a decade as it announced a $2.81 billion fourth-quarter loss. Revenue dropped 24% to $81.07 billion. I'm generally an optimistic person, but this is starting to get me down. Already one of my good friends has been laid off. I suspect more will follow. Seismic contractors will have their backlogs for awhile, but I fear that this crisis could land them back in the doldrums pretty quickly. The energy industry is a fascinating industry to cover as a journalist, but not when it's imploding. Sure wish I could find that article on shrewd spending cuts.