I don't see a question in your posting, except perhaps to ask why there's no consulting work out there for you. Actually, consultants are often the first and worst affected by economic downturns, since they can be terminated without concerns except for those spelled out in the "termination conditions" sections of contracts in effect. My own friends who consult (and that portion of my business that comes from consulting) has suffered terribly since 2000 as well, and I don't hear much better news from the field elsewhere either. While your age may have some implicit bearing on the situation, you're absolutely correct to observe that no explicit mention thereof is likely.
While you have my sincere sympathy, my advice is to keep looking for work and perhaps to consider a temporary or permanent job if no consulting gigs are forthcoming. As someone who's in more or less the same boat as you, I can empathize with the depression that extended idleness can cause.
This was first published in February 2003