Companies have been eliminating international postings solely for career development purposes and making other cuts to curb expatriate program costs for the better part of a decade, but the economy's free fall pushed changes into overdrive, say Corporate HR executives and expat program management consultants. In recent months, companies have begun recalling expats from multiyear assignments up to 12 months early. Not surprisingly, expat programs at companies in the banking, financial services and auto industries are some of the hardest hit. Expats can't even expect a job when they get home. At the same time, companies can't afford to continue with the status quo, executives and consultants say.