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April 14, 2010

Appreciating Spirited Debate

Earlier this month, the Detroit Branch hosted Michigan's High School Fed Challenge competition in which teams of all ages, including freshmen, discussed the current state of the national economy and its outlook going forward, making a policy recommendation at the end of their presentation. As the competition progressed, I noticed all of the presentations shared one characteristic: spirited debate. Every team vigorously discussed which economic indicators should be paid the most attention, a discussion widely shared at recent presentations I've attended.

Today's release of March retail sales figures from the Census Bureau only adds to the argument of what should be given more consideration, the Wall St. point of view or the Main St. point of view? The Wall St. point of view focuses on the rebound in real GDP growth, the increase in many of the components of the index of leading economic indicators, and the winding down of some of the Federal Reserve liquidity programs. However, the Main St. point of view is trained on relatively high unemployment numbers, stagnant incomes, a flat housing market, and consumer cautiousness. Until these two points of view become more synchronized, the economic recovery will continue to be slow and steady.

It was good to see this same debate take place among high school students. All of the students that competed in Detroit should be proud of the work they put in to prepare for the state competition. I hope the same spirited debate is taking place in your classrooms.


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April 7, 2010

Financial Literacy on the Computer

Yesterday’s Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel chronicled multiple computer programs teachers are using in the classroom to try and enhance students’ experiences in the classroom. One of those programs was constructed by the Council for Economic Education. The Council’s new game aims to teach financial literacy to middle and high school students. An exciting feature of the game allows students to compete online against one another. Students look to prevent an infestation of financial literacy misinformation and missteps, known as the “Murktide”, from infiltrating the country. In order to beat back the Murktide, students must demonstrate an ability to comprehend a wide range of economic and financial topics. These topics range from basic budget concepts to monetary policy.

With Money Smart Week approaching in Illinois, Iowa, and Michigan, I thought this would be something worth examining. Teachers, what other financial education materials do you utilize that is outside of your regular curriculum? What new and inventive sources of information have you come across to supplement your lessons? I’d be interested to know so the next time I go into schools to give a lesson or presentation, I can be more effective, allowing the students to get more out of the presentation.


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