In the 11 weeks since President Bush approved tax rebates aimed at averting a recession, energy prices have risen so much that the country is now spending about $250 million more per day on gasoline.
As the U.S. Treasury races to get the rebates to households, beginning this week, it faces an uphill battle against inflation that is blunting the benefits of the $152 billion 2008 stimulus package.
There is a lot riding on what consumers do with these rebate checks.
Depending on how much is promptly spent -- and on what -- it could mean the difference between the U.S. economy eking out marginal growth in the coming months or slipping into a deep recession.
It could affect whether the U.S. Federal Reserve keeps cutting interest rates.
Also, the economy is likely to play a pivotal role in November's presidential election, which incumbent parties tend to lose when recessions hit.
That leads to our Fast Money Reader Poll. How are you planning to spend most of your tax rebate?
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