Category: Ethics

Article: How Online Shopping Makes Suckers of Us All

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May 15, 2017
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Article, Behavioral Finance, Research, Budgeting, Purchase Decisions, Current Events, Ethics
Rather long (about 15 minute read) but intriguing article from The Atlantic that provides great context for trends that I have blogged about the growth of online shopping (here and here). The article describes how in this era of “big data” retailers are harnessing consumer information to price discriminate and obliterate the concept of a fixed price. Here are a few excerpts: Death of fixed price: “This could be seen as the final stage of decay of the old one-price system....

Skill Development: Building Media Literacy Skills

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Apr 16, 2017
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Article, Writing assignment, Ethics
The world of personal finance is constantly changing…the products that students are evaluating today will be different tomorrow…robo-advisers, target date retirement funds, Venmo, mobile banking didn’t exist just a few years ago. This makes media literacy such a critical skill to develop in our students. To become financially capable they will need to be lifelong learners and know what sources to turn to in order to get quality, credible information. Unfortunately, in this era...

We Have Heard This Tune Before...

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Dec 11, 2016
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Ethics, Behavioral Finance, Investing, Current Events
Headline from last week’s Wall Street Journal: Merrill Brokers Get Ultimatum: Refer New Customers or Face A Pay Cut. Huh? Didn’t we just read about another financial services firm creating phony customer accounts because of cross-selling pressures (here and here)? The more things change, the more they stay the same.  Read through to the end for ideas on how to empower your students to not fall into this cross-selling trap of being pushed a product that may not be in their best...

Interactive: Grappling With The Ethics of Self-Driving Cars

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Dec 05, 2016
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Ethics, Activity, Research, Teaching Strategies, New Products, Current Events, Activities, Interactive
Skimming this FT article about Apple’s efforts in the autonomous vehicle market, I was intrigued with the introduction of ethics into the conversation: Apple urges the regulator to continue “thoughtful exploration of the ethical issues” of self-driving cars. “Because automated vehicles promise such a broad and deep human impact, companies should consider the ethical dimensions of them in comparably broad and deep terms,” Apple writes. These considerations include privacy, how the...

Video: How Did These NFL Players Lose $43 Million?

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Oct 24, 2016
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Behavioral Finance, Question of the Day, Investing, Current Events, Video Resource, Financial Scams, Ethics
From 60 Minutes (14 minute video): Questions: What was the investment idea that burned so many NFL players? Why do you think the NFL players were so attracted to this idea? How much money did Mr. Rubin raise for the Country Crossing project? What were Mr. Rubin’s incentives? Did he make money even if the investment failed? How? Why did the investment fail? Based on the fact that some players lost their homes after this investment failed, how much of their wealth do you think they...

If You Are A Teacher Enrolled In a 403(b) Plan, Please Read This!

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Oct 24, 2016
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Article, Behavioral Finance, Career, Policy, Index Funds, Investing, Stocks, Current Events, Ethics
This is a great example where your knowledge of investing can come in handy for yourself and other teachers in your building. The NY Times story shows what happens when light regulation meets rapacious financial firms. This is why financial literacy is so important! We can wait for regulation or we can arm ourselves with the knowledge necessary to avoid disasters like the story told below. Without knowing the right questions to ask or understanding the alternatives, too many teachers have seen...

Workplace Ethics: What Would You Do?

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Oct 10, 2016
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Ethics, Behavioral Finance, Career, Teaching Strategies, Current Events, Credit Reports
While on my way to the airport to catch a flight to Richmond, Virginia for the Virginia Financial Literacy Summit (stop by our Roundtable from 9:30-10:30am if you are attending the summit!), I listened to this 18 minute Planet Money podcast [warning: coarse language (bull!@#$) in first minute]: The podcast focuses on the cross-selling techniques of this national bank from the perspective of an entry-level employee whose responsibility was to execute the “eight is great” strategy....

Question: How Can Fake Bank and Credit Accounts Impact Your Credit Score?

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Sep 28, 2016
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Article, Credit Scores, Credit Cards, Current Events, Credit Reports, Audio Resource, Financial Scams, Ethics
For those of you following the Wells Fargo fake account saga (some Senators might use more choice terms to describe their actions), your probably familiar with the details of millions of fake bank and credit cards that were set-up by overzealous branch employees trying to hit their sales quotas (I posted how this case is emblematic of why consumers better understand the sales incentive structure for financial products). Hat tip to Jessica Endlich for pointing out the additional harm that may...

Why Do Incentives Matter In The World of Financial Services?

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Sep 14, 2016
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Ethics, Activity, Behavioral Finance, Credit Cards, Checking Accounts, Teaching Strategies, Current Events, Article, Financial Scams
You might want to add another question to ask that well-dressed salesperson who is selling you a financial product (or any other product for that matter): How are you being compensated? I bring this up as the clouds continue to darken over a certain financial institution who has been in the headlines recently: Wells Fargo opened a couple million false accounts (Bloomberg) Wells Fargo fired 5,300 workers for improper sales push. The executive in charge is retiring with $125 million. (Chicago...

How Do You Teach Money Values and Beliefs?

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Sep 07, 2016
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Behavioral Finance, Lesson Idea, Teaching Strategies, Purchase Decisions, Video Resource, Article, Writing assignment, Ethics
Elizabeth Justema, a first-time personal finance teacher from Summit High School of Bend, Oregon, shared resources that she developed to facilitate student reflection on their money values and beliefs (listen to her podcast here). She hopes this set of resources answers a set of essential questions and achieves specific learning objectives that she outlined below: Essential Questions: What are my values/needs/wants? What is my perspective on money? What are the origins of those...

Video: What Does It Take to Be An Effective Altruist?

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Aug 03, 2016
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Video Resource, Generosity, Ethics
Sorry, but on a roll now with this theme of charitable giving (check out this podcast with Eileen Heisman, leader in the world of philanthropy). Here is a thought-provoking TED video with Peter Singer, ethicist from Princeton (Warning: the first 1:30 of this 17 minute video involves a car accident involving a young child is extremely difficult to watch for many reasons) : What do I like about the video? He addresses head-on many objections that people have to giving: How much of a...

For Econ Teachers Looking To Bring Supply and Demand Curves To Life...

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Aug 01, 2016
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Article, Behavioral Finance, Purchase Decisions, Current Events, Math, Ethics
The departure of Lin-Manuel Miranda could mean lower demand for “Hamilton” tickets — and lower profits for ticket scalpers. Credit: Sara Krulwich/The New York Times What happens when demand far outstrips supply as it has done for tickets for the Broadway smash “Hamilton?” Prices go up and scalpers mint money. NY Times takes it from there (I bolded the final line): On July 9, Lin-Manuel Miranda, the founding father of “Hamilton,” took his final bow in the title role of...

Ethics Activity: The L.L. Bean Return Policy

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Jul 26, 2016
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Ethics, Activity, Purchase Decisions, Current Events, Audio Resource, Activities, Cartoons
I was listening to this audio segment (20.5 minutes) of This American Life’s podcast “Get Your Money’s Worth” (Act 2: Bean Counter) about retailer L.L. Bean’s return policy and thinking “what a great discussion starter about the ethics of customer returns.” We have an ethics lesson on our curriculum roadmap so please send along any other ways that you bring ethics into your classroom. Here are some questions for your students to ponder as they...

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