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Psychic's business booming in tough economy

  • Story Highlights
  • New York psychic says business is booming with people seeking financial advice
  • Roxanne Usleman charges clients up to $135 for a consultation
  • Businessman says insight from psychic helps him "make better decisions"
  • Financial adviser: Psychic readings not good investment for those on tight budget
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By Christine Romans
CNN
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NEW YORK (CNN) -- The housing crisis will deepen, the country could fall into a depression and laid-off workers may need to start their own business.

Bruce Levy

New York psychic Roxanne Usleman says the bad economy had been good for her business.

If this sounds like the advice of a financial planner or an economist, think again. It's a reading from psychic medium Roxanne Usleman.

As the economy tanks, Usleman's business is booming.

"It's more types of people I have never seen before," says Usleman. "Men in the business world, high-powered jobs, stock market, Wall Street."

Since last fall, she says she began to see a new type of client -- a "logical, [A-type] of personality." Many of them are "just completely lost," says Usleman.

Relationship advice, typically the bread and butter of the psychic business, has been supplanted by something new.

"Should I merge with this company? Should I bring in a partner to my company," are the kind of questions Usleman gets from her clients.

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This is not the fortune teller of popular imagination. Wearing a Diane Von Furstenberg dress, Usleman met with CNN at her sparse but tasteful office in midtown Manhattan. There was no crystal ball in sight when she gave a personal reading on the economy.

For a typical reading, she grips a client's photograph or set of keys and consults "the angels."

Business is good, she says. Usleman sees five or six clients a day and charges up to $135 a pop for sessions that usually last more than an hour. Video Watch what a session looks like »

Businessman Bruce Levy was skeptical at first but one of his clients pushed him to get a reading.

"What I expected was something like Ouija boards and someone looking at my palm and seeing my lifeline," says Levy.

Instead, he found a psychic who he says helped him find the answers.

"She helps me make better decisions," Levy says. "She is able to make me see things that I wouldn't otherwise see. I just think that she has this intuition that gets through to my subconscious in a way that I can't."Tell us how you're surviving in this tough economy

There are no national statistics on the business of psychics. But Usleman's experience is backed up by anecdotal evidence from other psychics around the country. Liveperson.com matches psychics with customers on its Web site and says the uncertain economy has been good for business. Some psychics charge up to $20 a minute for advice.

Many people simply feel like they have to do something, according to Professor Gita Johar at Columbia Business School in New York.

"The biggest reason people are going to see psychics is probably that they want to feel in control," says Johar, who studies consumer behavior.

"And when they see that their financials aren't looking so good and they really can't turn to their financial adviser -- they haven't been getting really good advice and so they have to turn to someone else."

Are people taking control or just wasting money?

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Financial adviser Ryan Mack says adding the cost of a psychic reading into an already stretched budget is not a good investment.

"Regardless of what the stars say, regardless of what the map says in terms of -- if Pluto is lined up with Mars," says Mack. "You have the ability within yourself to save, to plan and to be diligent."

CNN's Kristina Yates contributed to this report.

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