We all know about Jeopardy! and spelling bees. And many of us are familiar with the Academic Decathlon (I was briefly an Academic Decathlon coach, many years ago). But did you know that there's a National Economics Challenge in which many high school students compete? Well, there is -- it's sponsored by the National Council on Economic Education (NCEE) and the Goldman Sachs Foundation, and it was held on May 23. The Challenge is one of a bunch of NCEE initiatives in a "Campaign for Economic Literacy." Some 750 students from 35 states competed, and teams from Hawaii and Missouri won.
A glance at some of the questions will likely make you realize how little you know about economics. Here are a few examples. I'll list the answers below, so don't peek until you see whether you can muster some answers on your own.
1. What word precedes each of the following words to form an economic concept -- gain, stock, flight, account, and good?
2. What country is the world's largest debtor nation?
3. Large price reductions in the short run that are intended to drive out competitors are referred to as what kind of pricing?
4. If the cross-elasticity of demand between two goods is positive, the two goods are called what?
5. A bank's reserves are the sum of its vault cash and what else?
6. A weakening of a country's currency tends to do what to its net exports?
See? I told you there were some toughies. If you're feeling bad about your economic savviness, stop it. Many students now and years ago just never were taught much about economics. Or any financial matters, such as the power of stock market investing. Every now and then a survey is released, showing that vast numbers of Americans don't understand seemingly basic concepts, such as the fact that money socked under a mattress for decades will likely lose value because of inflation. Or that the stock market in general has advanced about 10% per year for most of the past century.
Financial literacy is important if you want to increase your wealth. You need to know how stock investing and other wealth-building approaches work and what makes the business world hum. Once you understand, for example, that a falling dollar has an upside for American companies with massive foreign revenues, you may view companies such as Inside Value recommendation Coca-Cola
You can improve your financial literacy by reading some not-so-hard-or-unpleasant-to-read books, such as:
- The Motley Fool Investment Guide
- The Motley Fool Money Guide
- The Wall Street Journal Guide to Understanding Money and Investing
- Learn to Earn
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And finally, as promised, here are the answers to the questions posed earlier:
2. The United States.
4. Substitutes/substitute goods.
5. Its deposits at the Federal Reserve.
6. Increases them.
Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian owns shares of Coca-Cola and John son & John son.