A Week's Worth: Quick takes on the world of work and money.

Coupon use will surge as economy slumps, tax refunds go to bill-paying, 'star' stock forecasts are little better than average.

Across the board, stock indexes experienced their steepest decline in more than a month last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 2.3 percent.

Are you due a tax refund from Uncle Sam? If you're like the majority of respondents to a new Associated Press poll, it's not a luxury anymore, and you'll use it to pay bills. Fewer than one-third said they plan to save or invest the money. Respondents who've received or still expect a refund fell from 66 percent a year ago to 56 percent.

With even the chairman of the Federal Reserve acknowledging that a recession "is possible," marketing analyst ICOM Information & Communications L.P. says a resurgence in the use of coupons may well be ahead. In its survey of 1,529 Americans, 67 percent rated themselves more likely to present coupons at the checkout counter than before economic news began turning negative. A family of four can save more on groceries in a year through "wise" coupon use than the value of the economic stimulus check it will be mailed this year, ICOM says.

The gap between Wall Street analysts with star power and all the others is so small that it gives investors virtually no edge in where to put their money, according to a University of Illinois study. It tracked corporate earnings forecasts by more than 13,000 analysts between 1984 and 2002 and found the average difference between the most and least accurate was less than 1 percent per share. As lead researcher Louis Chan put it: "If investors were to just follow the stars' forecasts, it's not like they're going to get rich."

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