A Week's Worth

By , Work & Money editor

A little less red ink for the US government, which saw last month's deficit fall 44 percent from a year ago to the smallest May figure since 2001. The reason: a boom in tax revenues from an improving economy. For the year, the federal deficit could dip to $350 billion, the Congressional Budget Office says, down from last year's record $412.8 billion. But the trade deficit for April jumped to to $56.96 billion, the fourth-largest ever, because record imports swamped a strong rise in exports.

Sure, gas costs more, but its 44 percent price rise since 1982 is half that of postal increases, a third of the rise in air fares, and one-eighth the spiral in college tuition, says energy research firm John S. Herold Inc. If you're really steamed about inflation, take it out on those '70s-era pop stars, who charged an average $26 for a concert a decade ago, while Paul McCartney commands $90 a ticket today.

Rich but pessimistic: For the first time in four years, wealthy Americans have grown less optimistic about the stock market, says a US Trust Corp. survey.

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That e-mail fix: What's the first thing you do when you get up? Nearly half of Americans check their e-mail, even before brushing their teeth, according to a study by Reachon.com. A third of those surveyed said they kept checking their cellphones for e-mail messages - on average, every five minutes - during the workday. Some 15 percent said they used hand-held devices to check messages in the bathroom.

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