Stock Market Game Week in Review

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.

As we entered the last week of the fall session of the SMG program, we were greeted with both good news and bad news. According to the Federal Reserve's Flow of Funds report, consumer debt fell an annualized $30 billion, or 0.8% in the third quarter to $13.91 trillion. This is the first time ever (or since 1951, when the Fed first started keeping track) that Americans' debt has shrunk. Suze Orman should be proud, right?

Well, not exactly.

When Americans hold less debt it also means they are spending less and debt has become more expensive and harder to come by. For many Americans it has become increasingly harder to finance big-ticket items like homes and cars amid a heightened credit crunch, increasing home foreclosures and ballooning unemployment. So where is the good news?

For many, the current state of the economy is providing the perfect opportunity to learn important money management skills -- save now, spend later.

In other news, it appears the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds may be used for the Big Three automakers ( General Motors ( GM), Chrysler and Ford ( F)). The defeat of a $14 billion bailout package in the Senate left the Bush administration little choice but to tap into the $700 billion TARP package. According to the White House Press Secretary, Dana Perino, "a precipitous collapse of this industry would have a severe impact on our economy, and it would be irresponsible to further weaken and destabilize our economy at this time."

General Motors has warned it needs $4 billion by the end of the month or else it will run out of money. It stated it will need an additional $6 billion in the first two months of 2009. Chrysler needs $4 billion early next year. Although Ford is in better financial shape, it has stated it may need assistance in mid-2009 if the state of the auto industry does not improve.

In light of the Senate's rejection of the auto bailout package, stocks took a tumble around the world. British, Asian and French markets all experienced drops Friday morning. The U.S. market seemed to follow the same trend with the Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq all slipping in early trading but ultimately ending the day in positive territory. (Don't miss " Bulls Shake Negativity, Eke Out a Win" and " Coming Week: Another Rate Cut?")

As your students enter their final trades of the fall semester, we'd like to point out a great culminating activity for the program. It's important for students to reflect on the choices they made in their portfolios. The lesson How Successful Was My Investment Strategy? encourages students to evaluate their portfolios with a critical eye and draw conclusions as to whether their strategy for managing their portfolio was successful. The lesson is accessible through the Lessons & Activities link in the "In the Classroom" section of the Teacher Support Center.

Another great culminating activity mentioned in previous Week in Reviews is the PNC ( PNC) Christmas Price Index project available through the Projects link in the "In the Classroom" section of the Teacher Support Center. As an added resource, please also consider joining Jim Dunigan of PNC Wealth Management for a Webcast and live chat on the PNC Christmas Price Index at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 16. Contact Wayne Marks at wmarks@sifma.org for more information about joining the chat.

Have a wonderful holiday and a well-deserved break! We look forward to your participation in the SMG program during the spring semester (please feel free to register now at www.stockmarketgame.org).

To learn more about The Stock Market Game, visit www.stockmarketgame.org.

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

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