The Stock Market Game is a curriculum-based teaching tool that allows students to invest a hypothetical $100,000 online stock portfolio to learn about long-term saving and investing.

So it's official: The National Bureau of Economic Research confirmed Tuesday that the U.S. economy slid into a recession about 12 months ago. Since the start of the recession, the economy has lost 1.9 million jobs, unemployment has increased by 2.7 million and the jobless rate has risen by 1.7 percentage points.

The Labor Department provided additional grim news Friday morning when it said employers cut 533,000 jobs in November -- the largest monthly decline in 34 years! This initially sent stocks spiraling downward, but the bulls sparked a rally late in the session that caused indices to close sharply higher. After being down some 257 points earlier in the day,


ended up 259.18 points, or 3.1%, to 8635.42. The

S&P 500

dropped 1.6% by noon but later added 30.85 points, or 3.7%, to close at 876.07.

In an attempt to breathe life into the economy,

Federal Reserve

Chairman Ben Bernanke is expected to ratchet down a key interest rate -- already near a historic low of one percent -- by as much as a half-percentage point on Dec. 16. There is also discussion about purchasing Treasury notes and bonds in an attempt to lower long-term interest rates -- something the Fed hasn't done since the early 1950s. Lower long-term rates would help bring down mortgage costs and other borrowing costs for businesses and individuals.

Thursday, the November sales reports from the nation's largest chain stores were released. These reports included figures from "Black Friday" and the Thanksgiving shopping weekend. Despite the fatal stampede in a Long Island store,


(WMT) - Get Report

continued to outperform its sector, reporting a 3.4% rise in November same-store sales, while rivals


(TGT) - Get Report



(COST) - Get Report

reported declines of 10.4% and 5%, respectively.

With tightening budgets and dissipating credit, it appears Santa's sack is going to be a whole lot lighter this year! For many, the current state of the economy emphasizes what the holidays are truly all about -- being thankful for friends and family (which may be a poor consolation to kids and teenagers with their hearts set on unwrapping a cavalcade of toys on Christmas morning).

As The Stock Market Game winds down for the fall semester, it's important to revisit a topic mentioned in an

earlier Week in Review

: investing for the long-term. One of the bedrock foundations of the SMG program is to teach students the importance of saving and investing for the long-term. In the

Teacher Support Center

, the lesson, "How Money Grows Over Time" teaches students about compound interest and the Rule of 72 -- both are excellent demonstrations of the long-term investing philosophy embraced by the SMG program. Be sure to check it out.

Good luck also to all of the students who submitted



To learn more about The Stock Market Game, visit

This article was written by a staff member of The Stock Market Game.