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While We’re At It, Your Fridge Is Also a Piece of Junk

Today’s roundup of stimulus coverage:

Not content to put you in a new car, the government wants you to think about a new washing machine and fridge, too. BusinessWeek reports that the Department of Energy will use stimulus cash to offer rebates of up to $200 for the purchase of high-efficiency household appliances. (You don’t need to turn in your old one.) The department has up to $300 million to spend on the program, which only covers appliances with an Energy Star seal. According to BusinessWeek, the industry could use the help: Shipments of washers, dryers, refrigerators and ovens fell by 10 percent in 2008.

Stock analysts warn that two stimulus programs are distorting market signals for cars and homes, creating artificial boosts in demand that aren’t sustainable, reports CNN Money. Only when the Cash for Clunkers program ends later today will the true state of the auto industry be apparent again, said one analyst. Similarly, the government’s program providing tax credits for home purchases obscures the fact that "inventories of unsold homes still rose and home prices are still falling," noted another.

The New York Post proves unable to resist a double entendre with its story about stimulus-funded sex research. The article cites stimulus funding for studies that examine "barriers to correct condom use" ($221,000), "hookups among adolescents" ($219,000), and "drug use as a sex enhancer" ($123,000).

This corner usually sticks to American coverage, but news today from across the Atlantic merits an exception. Le Monde reports (via the AP) that France has now spent two-thirds of its stimulus package and plans to have spent three-quarters by year’s end. By contrast, according to ProPublica’s research, the United States has spent less than 15 percent, excluding tax cuts, which are more difficult to track. To be fair, France’s stimulus is considerably smaller: Two-thirds is only $26 billion, while the U.S. has paid out more than $80 billion so far in direct spending alone. However, Francophiles will note that La Belle Pays is no longer in recession. Coincidence? Nous ne savons pas.

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