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Getting Schooled About Money

Getting Schooled About Money
Why personal finance is becoming as important as reading, writing, and arithmetic.

During her junior year of high school, Candice Backus's teacher handed her a worksheet and instructed the 17-year-old to map out (綿密に計画する) her future financial life. Backus pretended to buy a car, rent an apartment, and apply for a credit card. Then, she and her classmates played the "stock market game," investing the hypothetical earnings from their hypothetical (仮想の) jobs in the market in the fateful fall of 2008. "Our pretend investments crashed," Backus says, still horrified. "We felt what actual shareholders were feeling."

That pain of earning and losing money is a feeling that public schools increasingly want to teach. Forty states now offer some type of financial instruction at the elementary or high-school level, embedding (組み込む) lessons in balancing checkbooks and buying stock into math and social-studies classes. Though it's too early to measure the full impact of the Great Recession, anecdotally (ついでながらに言うと、逸話的には) the interest in personal-finance classes has risen since 2007 when subprime became a four-letter word (禁句) and bank failures a regular occurrence. Now, a handful of (一握りの) states including Missouri, Utah, and Tennessee require teenagers to take financial-literacy classes to graduate from high school. School districts such as Chicago are boosting their offerings in money-management classes for kids as young as elementary school, and roughly 300 colleges or universities now offer online personal-finance classes for incoming students. "These classes really say, 'This is how you live independently,' " says Ted Beck, president of National Endowment for Financial Education.

Rather than teach investment strategies or financial wizardry, these courses offer a back-to-the-basics (基本に立ち帰る) approach to handling money: Don't spend what you don't have. Put part of your monthly salary into a savings account, and invest in the stock market for the long-term rather than short-term gains. For Backus, this means dividing her earnings from her part-time job at a fast-food restaurant into separate envelopes for paying bills, spending, and saving. "Money is so hard to make but so easy to spend," she says one weekday after school. "That was the big takeaway."

Teaching kids about the value of cash certainly is one of the programs' goals, but teachers also want students to think hard about their finances long term. It's easy for teenagers to get riled up (神経を尖らせる、イライラさせる) about gas prices because many of them drive cars. But the hard part is urging them to put off the instant gratification (満足感) of buying a new T shirt or an iPod. "Investing and retirement aren't things teenagers are thinking about. For them, the future is this weekend," says Gayle Whitefield, a business and marketing teacher at Utah's Riverton High School.

Utah began its financial-literacy program when the state's personal bankruptcy rate shot up (急上昇する) five years ago. Now, in the midst of this Great Recession, Utah schools are expanding financial literacy offerings, so that kids in grades K-12 (幼稚園生~12年生まで) learn about financial planning, money management, savings, and investing. "The state's personal bankruptcy rate really woke people up," says Julie Felshaw, the financial- and economic-education specialist for the Utah State Department of Education. "Parents say they wish they'd had a class like this."

That's a big goal for these classes: preventing kids from making the same financial missteps (つまずき、誤り) their parents did when it comes to saving, spending, and debt. Though the personal savings rate has shot up to 4.2 percent as of July 2009, that's still a far distance from 1982, when Americans saved 11.2 percent of their incomes. It's hard for schools to teach strict money-management skills when teenagers go home and watch their parents rack up (ため込む、蓄積する) credit-card debt. It's like telling your kids not to smoke and then lighting up a cigarette in front of them, Beck says.

The other hiccups (ちょっとした問題) in this burgeoning field (急成長している分野) of financial literacy, ironically, are money and time. The New Jersey state legislature passed a bill in the spring of 2009 that mandated that six high schools run pilot programs (試験的プログラム) to teach students personal finance, but the state didn't allocate any cash for the program or develop a specific course. Instead, teachers are supposed to sandwich financial-literacy classes between math, reading, and test prep. "Schools are being told to put this into their curriculums when they already have so many things they have to incorporate into (~に組み込む) their day," Beck says.

Even with these challenges, students such as Backus say learning about money in school is worthwhile. After Backus finished her financial-literacy class, she opened up a savings account at her local bank and started to think more about how she and her family would pay for college. "She just has a better understanding of money and how it affects the world," says her mother, Darleen—and that's down to the minutiae of how money is spent at-large from taxes to bank bailouts (銀行救済) to the federal government's deficit (連邦政府の赤字額). All of this talk of money can make Backus worry, she says, but luckily, she feels prepared to face it.

by yu-fen-sun | 2009-09-03 21:52 | 英語関連
The Laws of Supply and Demand

Production decisions are made based on demand (需要) for goods and services. Supply of goods and services is dependent upon demand for the same. Why do movies that are much more popular stay at theaters longer than those that aren't as popular? Demand for the movie causes the theater operators to supply the showings that the consumer wants. Why does the room rate in a convention hotel go down on weekends? There is less demand on weekends because most convention-goers leave on Friday or Saturday and others don't arrive until Monday, so the supply of available rooms goes up. Hotel operators try to create more demand for their vacant weekend rooms by lowering prices and offering attractive amenities.

The law of demand states that during a specific time period the quantity of a product that is demanded is inversely (反比例して) related to its price, as long as other things remain constant. The higher the price, the lower the demand; the lower the price, the higher the demand. Don't confuse demand with wants. Consumers have unlimited wants, as was established at the beginning of this discussion. Nor are demands and wants the same as needs. A consumer may need to have a crown (歯冠) put on a tooth but may not want to have it done because of the high cost. At some point, the suffering patient may demand the services be provided regardless of the price.

Often when prices are too high and demand for a product or service lessens, it is because consumers have found a suitable substitute. Substitution happens all the time as a result of economic decisions that are made by consumers. For example, if someone needs a winter coat and likes one with a designer name and a price that reflects that name, the purchase may not be made. Instead, the person finds a similar coat that does not have a designer label and purchases it instead at a much lower cost.

Demand for goods or services determines the amount that will be supplied. The law of supply states that the greater the demand, the more that will be supplied; the lower the demand, the less that will be supplied. The amount that will be supplied by a producer of the good or service is based on capacity and willingness to supply the product at a specific price. A producer will not supply goods and services just because there is demand for them—price for the good or service is an important consideration.

If consumers are willing to pay more for a good or service, the producer will likely be willing to shift more resources in order to increase the supply of the demanded product. If a rancher (牧場の経営者) is raising prime beef cattle and there is high demand for this good and consumers are willing to pay more for high-quality beef, then the rancher might be willing to supply more even if it is necessary to shift resources or acquire additional resources to be able to do so.

Demands change, supplies change, and prices change. So how does a producer know how much is enough and what price to charge for the goods and services? Very simply, the demand for and supply of goods and services can be plotted on graphs using different prices. The supply and demand for a good or service intersect on the graph at what is called the equilibrium price, or the price where all of what is supplied will be demanded. If the price is belowe equilibrium, there will be a shortage of the good or service, and if the price is above equilibrium, there will be a surplus of the good or service.

by yu-fen-sun | 2009-09-03 00:41 | 英語関連
Economic Choice

Opportunity Cost.
When one makes economic decisions, it is because of limited resources. Alternatives must be considered. People make such decisions based on expecting greater benefits from one alternative than another. There is an opportunity cost involved in the choice. Opportunity cost is the benefit forgone (捨てる、差し控える) from the best alternative that is not selected: Individuals give up an opportunity to use or enjoy something in order to select something else.

Opportunity costs can't always be measured, because it might be satisfaction that is lost. At other times, however, opportunity cost can be measured. Here are examples of each. Perhaps a student is studying hard for a final examination in a difficult course because a good exam score is critical to achieve the desired grade. Friends call to invite the student out for the evening. The alternatives are to study or to have fun. Being wise, the student selects studying instead of going out. It is difficult to measure the opportunity cost of having fun with friends. In the second example, the same studying student is asked to help someone clean a garage. If the person offers to pay the student $50 to clean the garage and the student chooses to study, the opportunity cost is easily measured at $50. In both these examples, opportunity cost is directly related to what was given up, not any other benefits that might result from the decision.

Circumstances (状況、事情) also play a role in opportunity cost. Sometimes people are forced into a decision because of circumstances and the results may not always be optimal (最適な、最善な). For example, if someone is planning to relocate to a new city to start a new job and wants to sell a house before the move in order to be able to purchase a new house in the new location, the person may sell the house for less than the market price in order to complete the process. The opportunity cost is the value of what was given up in order to be able to purchase a new home. Every time a choice is made, opportunity costs are assumed.

Another economic choice that must be made is related to production. All four of the decisions must be made: What goods will be produced? How will production occur? How much should be produced? Who will be the recipients? All are decisions that influence production efficiency.

Efficiency is the primary element in deciding what to produce and how to go about (取りかかる) the production process. Efficiency is producing with the least amount of expense, effort, and waste, but not without cost. If you take something away from a person to satisfy another person, one will be less happy and the other will be more happy. If a way can be found to make one person more happy without making the other person less happy, this would be efficient.

An example of economic efficiency might be the following. Assume someone owns a car and a friend doesn't own a car but does drive. The friend needs transportation regularly for a week. It happens to be a time when the car owner will be away on a business trip and therefore won't be using the car. It makes no sense for the friend to buy a car to use for such a short period of time, so the owner loans the friend the car for that week. The car owner is no worse off and the friend is better off. Economic efficiency has occurred in this situation. If the car owner had not loaned the car to the friend, there would have been waste because the friend would have had to buy or rent a car. It is wasteful to fail to take advantage of opportunities in which there is no loss of satisfaction to either party.

Production efficiency (生産効率) is a situation in which it is not possible to produce any more units of a good without giving up the opportunity to produce another good unless a change occurs in available productive resources. If a farmer is growing wheat to be sold for the production of bread, there is a point at which adding additional fertilizer to the soil would do no good. If the fertilizer were used on an oat crop in a different field, production could be increased for that crop. The way to increase the wheat production is to find different resources to make the crop better, such as irrigating the land to provide more moisture.

In the above example, it was suggested that different or additional resources might be used to increase production. This is necessary only after efficiency has been achieved. Additional resources would have to come from land, labor, capital, or entrepreneurship. It is most common that capital will be used most often to increase production. Capital is productive input that is increased by people. This is known as investment. Investment involves giving up what might presently be consumed in favor of producing something to consume in the future. If the farmer wants to increase wheat production in the future, something will have to be given up now in order to increase the resources available for future production.

Increasing human capital is critical to increasing production. This does not mean that more people must be produced, but rather that the knowledge and skills of humans must be increased. This can happen because of improvements in technology and new ways of satisfying wants. This involves the entrepreneurial factor that was described previously—the human element that figures out ways to improve and expand the resources that already exist.

Product Distribution.
Getting goods into the hands of those who want them involves many choices. The economic system must decide how to divide the products that are produced among the potential recipients. Sometimes products can be divided equally among recipients, but normally this is not the situation. It must then be determined how the division will take place. In a capitalistic economic system, distribution is often determined by wealth. If two people have the same wants, the person who can most afford something will be able to acquire it.

opportunity cost (機会費用) の概念は、
by yu-fen-sun | 2009-09-03 00:22 | 英語関連
Goods and Services

It takes land, labor, and capital that are used by an entrepreneur to produce goods and services that will ultimately be used to satisfy our wants. Goods are tangible, meaning they are something that can be seen or touched. The production of goods requires using limited resources to produce in order to satisfy wants. An example might be a farmer who grows grain. The farmer uses farm equipment manufactured from resources; ground is a natural resource that is used to grow the grain; and because the growth of grain depletes the nutrients (栄養分を激減させる) in the soil, the farmer must use fertilizers (肥料) to restore (元の状態に戻す、回復させる) the nutrients. Limited resources are used to produce natural or chemical fertilizers, but they are necessary for crop production. Water might be used to irrigate the crop and enhance production. When the crop is ready for harvest, the farmer uses additional resources to complete the process—equipment, gasoline, labor, and so on—which results in a good that can be used or sold for use by others.

Services are provided in numerous ways and are an intangible activity. There is no doubt that one can often see someone providing a service, but the service is not something that someone can pick up and take home to use. An example of a service is a ride in a taxi through a crowded city. It takes resources for the owner or driver to provide the service, and a passenger is consciously aware of riding in a taxi. When the ride is completed and the provider has been paid, the passenger doesn't have anything tangible to hold except the receipt. However, resources have been used to provide the service. The automobile used as the cab, the fuel used to operate the cab, and the labor of the driver are all examples of resources being used to provide a service that will satisfy a want.

It is important to understand that because goods and services utilize resources that are limited, goods and services are also scarce. Scarcity results when the demand for a good or service is greater than its supply. Remember that society has unlimited wants but scarce resources. It is scarcity, then, that causes consumers to have to make choices. If individuals can't have everything they want, they must decide which of the goods and services are most important and which they can do without.

by yu-fen-sun | 2009-09-02 23:13 | 英語関連

Economic resources, often called factors of production (生産要素), are divided into four general categories. They are land, labor (sometimes referred to as human resources), capital, and entrepreneurship.

Land describes the ground that might be used to build a structure such as a factory, school, home, or church, but it means much more than that. Land is also the term used for the resources that come from the land. Trees are produced by the land and are used for lumber, firewood, paper, and numerous other products, so they are referred to as land. Minerals that come from the ground, such as oil that is used to make gasoline or to lubricate automobile engines, or gold that is used to make jewelry, or wheat that is grown on the land and is used in the production of bread and other products, or sheep that are raised for the wool they produce that is used to make sweaters are all described as land.

Labor (Human Resources).
Labor is the general category of the human effort that is used for the production of goods and services. This includes physical labor, such as harvesting trees for lumber, drilling for oil or mining (採掘する) for gold, growing wheat for bread, or raising the sheep that produce wool for a sweater. In addition to physical labor, there is mental labor, which is necessary for such activities as planning the best ways to harvest trees and making decisions about which trees to harvest. Labor is also involved when a doctor or surgeon (外科医) analyzes and diagnoses (診断する) (mental labor) before performing a medical procedure, then performs the procedure (physical labor).

Capital is input that is often viewed in two ways, much as is labor. Capital might be viewed as human capital—the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that humans possess that allow them to produce. The other type of capital is physical capital, which includes buildings, machinery, tools, and other items that are used to produce goods and service. Traditionally, physical capital has been a prerequisite (前提条件) for human capital; however, because of rapid changes in technology, today human capital is less dependent on physical capital.

One special form of human capital that is important in an economic setting is entrepreneurship (often thought of as the fourth factor of production). Entrepreneurial abilities are needed to improve what we have and to create new goods and services. An entrepreneur is one who brings together all the resources of land, labor, and capital that are needed to produce a better product or service. In the process of doing this, the entrepreneur is willing to assume the risk of success and failure.

Many people associate entrepreneurship with creating or owning a new business. That is one definition of entrepreneurship but not the only one. An entrepreneur might create a new market for something that already exists or push the use of a natural resource to new limits in order to maximize efficiency and minimize consumption.
by yu-fen-sun | 2009-09-02 22:57 | 英語関連
Wants, Needs, and Scarcity

As a society, and in economic terms, people have unlimited wants; however, resources are scarce. Don't confuse wants and needs (要求と必要性). Individuals often want what they don't need. In the automobile example used above, someone might want to drive a large luxury car, but a small pickup truck may be more suited to the purchaser's needs if he or she must have a vehicle for hauling furniture (家具を運送する). Economic decisions must be made.

A resource is scarce when there is not enough of it to satisfy human wants. And human wants are endless. Because of unlimited wants and limited resources to satisfy those wants, economic decisions must be made. This problem of scarcity (limited resources) must be addressed, which leads to economics and economic problems.

by yu-fen-sun | 2009-09-02 21:57 | 英語関連

Study of the economy. Classic economics concentrates on how the forces of supply and demand allocate scarce (十分でない、乏しい) product and service resources. Macroeconomics studies a nation or the world's economy as a whole, using data about inflation, unemployment and industrial production (工業生産) to understand the past and predict the future. Microeconomics studies the behavior of specific sectors (部門) of the economy, such as companies, industries, or households. Over the years, various schools of economic thought have gained prominence (名をあげる、有名になる), including Keynesian Economics, Monetarism and Supply-Side Economics.


Economics is often described as a body of knowledge or study that discusses how a society tries to solve the human problems of unlimited wants (無限の要求) and scarce resources (不十分な供給源). Because economics is associated with human behavior, the study of economics is classified as a social science (社会科学). Because economics deals with human problems, it cannot be an exact science and one can easily find differing views (異なる視点) and descriptions of economics. In this discussion, the focus is an overview of the elements that constitute the study of economics, that is, wants, needs, scarcity, resources, goods and services, economic choice, and the laws of supply and demand.

Every person is involved with making economic decisions every day of his or her life. This occurs when one decides whether to cook a meal at home or go to a restaurant to eat, or when one decides between purchasing a new luxury car or a low-priced pickup truck. People make economic decisions when they decide whether to rent or purchase housing or where they should attend college.

by yu-fen-sun | 2009-09-02 21:44 | 英語関連

Spraying for Bugs? Check the Time

Spraying for Bugs? Check the Time

Scientists have found that the effectiveness of some insecticides (殺虫剤) depends on what time of day they're used. The results may also have implications for how people respond to medicines and to toxic chemicals.
When is a good time to kill a fly? We don't normally think about it, but researchers at Oregon State University say the time of day does matter. Jaga Giebultowicz and her colleagues tested four insecticides to see if their effect on fruit flies (ミバエ) changed at different times of the day. Timing made a big difference for one bug spray.

"You could kill the same number of insects but with one-third of the pesticide applied at one time of day versus another," Giebultowicz says.

Killing time

Another insecticide was almost twice as effective depending on the time. Dusk (夕暮れ) appears to be the best time to spray, "but, of course, it's hard -- you don't want to spray your orchard (果樹園) when it's dark," she adds.

However, the later in the day you spray, Giebultowicz says, the less pesticide you'll need to use -- at least with some chemicals.

Fruit flies produce a number of enzymes (酵素) that break down toxic chemicals and protect them from the poison. The researchers found the amount of several of these enzymes was controlled by the fruit fly's biological clock, rising and falling in sync with (~と同調して) the sun.

Many plants naturally produce chemicals that are toxic to insects, and Giebultowicz suggests the fruit flies' biological rhythm may boost these enzymes at the best time to detoxify (解毒する) the chemicals without wasting the insect's resources.

Not all of the insects' detox enzymes (解毒酵素) are cyclical (周期的な). Time didn't affect how the flies reacted to the other two chemicals Giebultowicz's lab tested. And they only tested fruit flies -- other insects may respond differently.

Beyond bugs

But Giebultowicz adds that the implications of her research extend far beyond the insect world.

"Biological clocks in insects and in humans are similar genetically," she says. So that means we may respond differently at different times of day when we're exposed to insecticides and other toxic chemicals; and it could also mean that medications may work better or worse depending on the time.

Giebultowicz says future studies should look into (~を調査する、研究する) how both people and insects respond to chemicals over the course of the day. When it comes to flies, though, the fly swatter (ハエ叩き) appears equally effective morning, noon, or night.

The research appears in the July issue of the journal PLoS One.

by yu-fen-sun | 2009-09-01 22:22 | 英語関連
Historic sea change at polls product of frustrated public

For better or worse, history has been made.

The Democratic Party of Japan was headed Sunday evening to winning more than 300 Lower House seats, an unprecedented landslide (前代未聞の大勝) for any political party in the postwar era.

The DPJ's victory will fundamentally change the power structure in a country ruled almost uninterrupted by the Liberal Democratic Party for the last 54 years.

Experts say the often politically complacent (政治的無関心な) public, frustrated by recent economic woes (悲哀) and grim prospects (暗い展望) for Japan's long-term future, finally decided it was time to give the opposition a chance.

The DPJ's victory is widely seen as public retribution (懲罰) against the LDP, not outright (率直な) support for the DPJ's election pledges of fighting the bureaucracy and promises to dole out money (少しづつお金を分け与える) to urban (都会の) voters and rural farmers.

According to an Aug. 18-19 poll by the Asahi Shimbun, 54 percent of 60,277 respondents said they were "very interested" in the election and 57 percent said they would vote for the DPJ in the proportional representation segment.

But only 24 percent of all respondents said they believe Japanese politics would "tread the right course (正しい道のりを歩む)" if a change of government (政権交代)takes place, while 56 percent said they expected no major change in politics regardless of the election outcome.

by yu-fen-sun | 2009-09-01 00:28 | 英語関連