The bad news -- how the mighty hath fallen. Though retail sales were fairly strong, 800 pound gorilla Wal-Mart reported same-store revenues actually fell for the month of November sending investors whizzing past the octogenarian greeters on their way out the door. The once invincible Wal-Mart dropped 1.17 percent at Thursday's close, which doesn't sound like much, but for a behemoth with more than 4 billion shares outstanding it may cause market participants to wonder if Sam Walton's "Always low prices" credo isn't manifesting itself on shareholder value.

The good news -- the rest of the market staged a mid-week recovery from Monday's scorched earth session and the Dow closed Thursday just slightly off Wednesday's close. Neither the Fed, the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index, nor sleet and snow in the Midwest were going to keep the Dow on the floor. The Dow's line graph has been moving steadily higher since September, but there were at least six significant dips during the fall term and that kind of rollercoaster ride is not for the squeamish.

Some of you may have some highflying students who are making a serious run for the money, but chances are that as we enter the penultimate week of the fall SMG session, many are looking at their investments hoping for a miracle or dreaming of what might have been. That's why now is a great time to have your students discuss risk tolerance.

Risk tolerance divides people into conservative, moderate, or aggressive investors (or some synonyms thereof) and the concept suggests that you should know your risk-tolerance and invest accordingly. For example, if you're the type of person who is going to worry constantly about the value of your investments and are terrified of losing money, you should follow a conservative investment strategy. Your investments will grow slowly, but they are unlikely to lose large amounts of principal value. On the other hand if you're a devil may care, "there's more where that came from" kind of person, conservative investments are a bore. You want to see things moving and you're willing to take the risk to see the bigger reward -- that makes you an aggressive investor. It's the old story of the tortoise and the hare, but we're not sure what that makes the moderate investor. A drowsy guinea pig? A slow moving snake? Perhaps there's a classroom activity here.

In any case, as always, you can access a core lesson on Risk Tolerance by logging into the Teacher Support Center. There are many other enlightening classroom materials there that can help teachers of all grade levels. We hope you will log in and take a look.

If you're teaching economics next week, here's an interesting article from TheStreet.com that demonstrates the interconnectedness of the economy.

That's all folks.
This article was written by a staff member of The Stock Market Game.

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