2014-11-19 TransitionsThis time of year, it’s hard to believe that another twelve months have passed and that we’re on the cusp of semester end and the holidays. We’ve had a very busy and rewarding 2014!

On the theme of transition, a message of a more personal nature: I’ll be leaving the SF Fed at the end of this month. I’ve accepted a position at the Reserve Bank of Australia, and will be catching a flight to Sydney after Thanksgiving!

It’s been an incredible six and a half years in the Federal Reserve System. I’ve been grateful to have worked with exceptional educators like you, and have been consistently inspired by your enthusiasm for economics and personal finance education.

The blog will be helmed by my Econ Ed colleagues going forward.  If things look a little different in the months ahead, it’s due to the transition! The blog will be taking a short hiatus in December, but will be back with exciting new content in January 2015.

Best wishes, and thank you for the opportunity to have worked with you!
– Rema

Apply now for the 2015 Education Advisory Group!

EAG-iconNow accepting applications for the 2015 Education Advisory Group (EAG)!

We invite you to apply for a position by submitting the information listed below by December 8, 2014. Selected members will attend a 2-day conference in San Francisco and work with SF Fed Econ Ed staff through December of 2015 on content ideas, teaching activities, the use of technology, and best practices related to teaching about the Federal Reserve and the U.S. economy.

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Janet Yellen Speaks Out on Inequality and Opportunity in America

2014-10-27 Yellen at FRB BostonLast week, the Chair of the Federal Reserve Janet Yellen spoke about inequality and opportunity in America. Her remarks were based on recent results from the Federal Reserve’s triennial Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF). The survey includes roughly 6,000 U.S. households and provides specific details about their income, wealth, and debt. This look at family balance sheets formed the basis for Chair Yellen’s remarks on inequality and economic opportunity in the U.S.

You can watch the video, read the full speech, and view the slides at the bottom of this page.

I wanted to highlight for you the four building blocks of economic opportunity that were identified by Chair Yellen in her speech, along with some supporting charts from the survey. In future posts, we’ll dive more deeply into the topic of inequality.

Four Building Blocks of Economic Opportunity in America

#1. Resources Available for Children

2014-10-24 Yellen 1 Fig 9Figure 9 above shows that access to quality early childhood education has improved since the 1990s, but it remains limited–41% of children were enrolled in state or federally supported programs in 2013.

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Tune in this weekend: “10 Things You Don’t Know About Money” on H2

10-things-you-dont-know-about-807Earlier this year, punk rocker turned History Channel program host Henry Rollins visited the Los Angeles Branch of the San Francisco Fed to film an episode for his 10 Things You Don’t Know About series.

Rollins and the show’s producers wanted to focus on a relatively obscure era in our nation’s currency history – when currency circulating in Hawaii was replaced with specially marked notes in anticipation of a potential invasion by Japan during World War II. Fed Historian Gary Richardson was interviewed about these “Hawaii notes.”

Rollins also interviewed Cash Director Rita Aguilar about the Fed’s cash operations and the use of the shredded currency to generate electricity.

Watch the episode when it airs this Saturday, October 11th, at 10:00pm ET / 11:00pm PT on H2.

The program will also be available on, iTunes, and Amazon.

Also, in case you missed it: Five Things You May Not Know About Money

Andrea Abrams contributed to this post. Photo via.

Students and Money – The 2012 PISA results

This week we wanted to take a deeper dive into the recent PISA financial literacy assessment by looking at the test framework and reviewing a snapshot of student performance across the 18 countries that participated.

What is Financial Literacy? – PISA Definition

Financial literacy is knowledge and understanding of financial concepts and risks, and the skills, motivation and confidence to apply such knowledge and understanding in order to make effective decisions across a range of financial contexts, to improve the financial well-being of individuals and society, and to enable participation in economic life. (via)

The Students and Money Framework

The financial literacy assessment consisted of a total of 40 questions organized into three broad perspectives: content, processes, and context. Under each of these perspectives, four categories of questions were then identified. These 12 categories formed the PISA “framework” for measuring financial literacy, see table below:

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OECD PISA Looks at Students and Money and Asks: What’s the Level of Understanding?

The OECD PISA international assessment of financial literacy released last week reveals that around one in seven students in the 13 OECD participating countries and economies are unable to make even simple decisions about everyday spending, and only one in ten can solve complex financial tasks.

So, to answer the question posed in this post’s title: Not very high.

What was this study about?

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A College Degree is Worth It, But Educate Yourself on Student Loans

This post is by guest writer Laura Choi, who is a Senior Research Associate with the SF Fed’s Community Development department.  Laura researches a variety of issues aimed at improving economic opportunities for low- and moderate-income communities.  Read her full bio here.

With graduation season upon us, it’s a great time to get your students thinking about the future. There’s no question that a college degree is becoming more and more of a necessity in today’s economy. A recent Econcepts blog post highlighted new research from the SF Fed showing that a college degree is a worthwhile investment for the average student as it leads to higher lifetime earnings.

At the same time, the news is filled with stories of individuals struggling to repay their student loans, and President Obama just announced new executive actions to “lift the burden of crushing student loan debt.”

But student debt doesn’t have to be crushing or scary, and a little information can go a long way in helping students make sound financial decisions when it comes to financing higher education.

Here are a few ideas that can help your students get a better understanding of student debt.

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The Cash Lifecycle

You may not know this about the Fed, but we do more than monetary policy.  We also play a central role in the nation’s payment systems. Reserve Banks keep enough currency and coin in circulation to meet public demand, provide check collection services to banks and other depository institutions, operate electronic payment systems, and provide financial services to the U.S. government and certain foreign institutions.  This week, we’re focusing on cash – past and present – and are also highlighting some of the work from our Cash Product Office.

Money, Money, Money

Cash stirs the imagination. It’s a driving plot element and character in thousands of books, movies, television shows, and songs. We think about it, dream about it, talk about it, work for it, save it, and spend it. At its most basic level, cash—currency and coin—is essentially a store of value for obtaining the goods and services you need for your daily life.

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