The $48 billion in tax rebates sent out to American consumers this spring has helped keep the US economy out of a recession, but analysts believe the impact may only be temporary.
The rebates, approved by Congress earlier this year, helped push May retail sales up at twice the expected rate. But consumers are still facing rising gas costs, falling home prices and the struggling job market, so the rise is probably short-term, says Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody's Economy.com.
Still, shoppers are still in a "belt-tightening mode," and the retail trend significantly weakens when the checks are taken out of the mix, says Frank Badillo, senior economist for Retail Forward.
"From what shoppers are telling us, they are looking to cut back their spending pretty much across the board," he says. "The stimulus checks are hiding that."
And that leads to our Fast Money Reader Poll. By how much are you looking to cut back your spending?
Got something to say? Send us an e-mail at email@example.com and your comment might be posted on the Rapid Recap! Prefer to keep your comments private? Send those questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.