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 History.com, 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.

Personal finance blog resources

Last week, we suggested a few economics blogs as resources.  This week, we’re turning our focus to blogs that address topics related to personal finance and financial literacy.

These blogs were all winners of the Plutus Awards at the 5th Annual FinCon Expo, a peer conference for the financial media community.

Best New Personal Finance Blog: Listen, Money Matters!

2014-10-1-Listen-money-mattersAndrew Fiebert and Matt Giovanisci hail from New England, and they have self-proclaimed themselves a personal finance nerd and a reformed debt addict, respectively. Together, they explore money issues and share their research and learning with the purpose of helping others along the same path towards financial freedom and early retirement. They also maintain a podcast.

Continue reading

Girl Scouts visit Phoenix Processing Center

2014.07.30Phoenix-GirlScouts-tour-launch2Just a quick post today to share a photo of Troop 966 (Peoria, AZ) from the Girl Scouts Arizona Cactus-Pine Council, along with representatives of our Fed outreach team.  These young women visited the SF Fed Phoenix Processing Center over the summer and got hands-on practice with personal finance by calculating income and creating a budget, along with learning how to save towards financial goals.

The Girl Scouts also viewed our cash operations and saw the coin and cash supply for the state of Arizona, while learning about the life cycle of cash in the U.S. A treasure hunt for piggy bank souvenirs completed their visit.

If you know an Arizona Girl Scout troop that would like to participate in our Phoenix office’s Girl Scout VIP Pass program, see the flyer below for more information.

Continue reading

Educators “Meet the Experts” in San Francisco

What happens when you mix brilliant economic minds and keen educators? An enthusiastic day of discussion, questions, professional development, and yes – even some fun! We recently hosted 70 educators from throughout the 12th District at our head office in San Francisco for Meet the Experts (MTE), a speaker series designed to provide secondary and post-secondary educators with an opportunity to interact with leaders from throughout the Bank.

MTE brand bannerWith MTE, our objective is to highlight emerging issues in the economy and foster greater understanding about the roles and responsibilities of the Federal Reserve. See how we strove towards that goal with the day’s agenda.  Remember to return to this blog in the following weeks as we’ll be providing tips for discussing this year’s MTE topics with your students.


Kevin Lansing presented on asset bubbles

The day started off with a dive right into economics content and a very timely topic: asset price bubbles. Kevin Lansing, Research Advisor for our Economic Research group, took the audience through a brief history of bubbles (notably the Tulip Mania bubble from 17th century Netherlands), then touched on three points that explain bubbles: forecasts based on past price movements, social dynamics and human emotion, and market structure. Kevin also discussed policy implications of lessons learned from price bubbles. His presentation slides are here.

Continue reading

Spreading our wings beyond the bald eagle: wildlife on United States currency

This post is by guest writer Andrea Abrams, who is a Senior Coordinator with the SF Fed’s Economic Education department.  Andrea leads a team of 38 staff outreach volunteers in our Los Angeles and Phoenix Branches who provide tours and personal finance workshops.  Read her full bio here.

Most students know that the bald eagle features prominently on the United States cash in their wallet. When it comes to frogs, reindeer, and bison, however, students may be in for a surprise.

Wildlife meets economics in our nation’s cash past.

Fighting frogs

Some of the earliest American notes were issued by private banks, and often contained imagery that was meaningful to the local community.  For example, the currency of Windham Bank, which was located in eastern Connecticut, featured a unique symbol that originated in local folklore.

A legend holds that one night in 1754, two local men were terrified by ferocious sounds of battle drawing near. Eager to protect their fellow residents, the two rushed home to gather reinforcements for what was presumed to be an enemy attack in association with the French and Indian War. No attackers were found, but in the morning the area was filled with thousands of bullfrogs who had apparently done battle the night before, possibly over the small amount of water in a nearby pond. This episode was immortalized in poetry and song…and on the local currency when Windham Bank issued a $5 private banknote depicting two frogs in combat.

2014.08.20 Spreading our wings beyond the bald eagle 1

Continue reading

Future leaders hone leadership, financial literacy, resume and interview skills at the Fed

Students talk with Adrian Rodriguez and Susan Sutherland (SF Fed Senior VP, Equal Employment Opportunity, HR, Statistics, Director of the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion, and Seattle Branch Manager)We’ve been busy at the SF Fed’s Los Angeles Branch!  On Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, 96 youth from the Academy of Business Leadership (ABL) visited for sessions on mentoring, financial literacy lessons, and resume and job interview skills.

Thursday saw the arrival of 42 members from the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles for a similar experience.  Both events were designed to develop leadership skills and to encourage careers in banking, business, finance, and economics.

In his welcoming remarks to the ABL audience, Roger Replogle, SF Fed Senior Vice President and Los Angeles Branch Manager, advised the young audience: “Learn to run to the fire – that’s where you find opportunity to grow, learn, and help.  Don’t look for the easy path.  Look for the hard one.”  He shared stories of successes and failures, both personal and professional, and lessons learned.

Lise Luttgens, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles, provided welcoming remarks for the Girl Scouts event and stressed that “gender is no barrier to financial literacy and independence.”

Continue reading

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:

Continue reading

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?

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

5 Things You May Not Know About Money

Money.  We use it daily, whether electronically or as cash (the demise of which is greatly exaggerated).  We are all are familiar with it in its current form.  But how much do you know about the history of money?  Use these five surprising facts to help history come alive for your students through currency.

1.  Before the Civil War, paper money could be issued by nearly anyone

Private Bank Note, Drover’s Bank, Salt Lake City, Utah, $3, 1856

Private Bank Note, Drover’s Bank, Salt Lake City, Utah, $3, 1856

Between 1837 and 1866, a period now often called the “Free Banking Era,” lax federal and state banking laws permitted virtually anyone to open a bank and issue currency. Paper money was issued by states, cities, counties, private banks, railroads, stores, and churches.  In the 1860s, an estimated 8,000 different state banks were circulating bank notes in denominations from ½ cent to $20,000!

These notes came in a variety of sizes, colors, and designs, and that combined with an environment of uneven regulations from area to area is widely considered to have increased the public’s appetite for centralized banking regulation.

As the American population moved Westward, some of the issuing institutions earned the dubious nickname “wildcat banks,” in reference to their remote locations, more accessible to wildcats than people.  The Free Banking Era ended with the passing of the National Bank Act of 1863.

Continue reading