BJK asked me to address the following here: "How does the economy affect publishing? Buying manuscripts etc?"
There are others who could address this question better than me, but first I would ask BJK: Why do you want to know? Why is this important? How will it affect your writing? If I tell you I've heard that the economy is making it even more difficult to get published, what will you do? Will that make you write harder or take a vacation?
All kidding aside, I'm thinking that you should check out MJ Rose (you can Google her). She talks about business a lot. Or you should forget about it.
Not what you were hoping for, huh?