Financial Literacy: Wall Street and How it Works

By Dr. Denise R. Ames

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Singapore Skyline: A Global Financial Center

This book examines the financial sector – a mysterious part of the global economy that has grown to overshadow other economic sectors, such as manufacturing and agriculture. Since the 1980s, neoliberal economic policies have changed the global economic structure and have supported the rise and dominance of the financial sector. The rise of and concentration of wealth in a virtually unregulated financial sector has contributed to the instability and inequality found in the U.S. today, as well as the entire world.

A Note from the Author …
Dr. Denise R. Ames

A study of the financial sector within the global economy will not be an easy task. Many of the concepts and terms may be new to you. But I have designed this book to be an examination of the financial sector today as it really works. Most of us know very little about the financial sector since it is hard to uncover its inner workings.

When I first began to examine the financial sector, it appeared to be covered in a veneer of mistaken assumptions or by an intractable worldview that everyone accepts as reality. But once I started to peel away the layers of veneer, I was surprised to find that the reality of the financial sector was quite different from commonly held assumptions. For example, it is hard for us to comprehend that the financial sector is not intent on creating value or adding to the betterment of the economy; instead, it is intent on making a profit, which is quite different from adding economic value. Indeed, there is a yawning divide between the real economy of Main Street and the momentary economy of Wall Street. 

I have found in my research that there are very few books that give a general, holistic overview of the financial sector. They may concentrate on what is wrong with the system or the disastrous financial crisis of 2008, but they fail to give us a firm grasp of why this turmoil all started in the first place. Blaming it all on greedy bankers or clueless homeowners doesn’t get at the roots of the issue. This overview of the financial sector today will provide us with a better understanding of how it is organized and who benefits. Then we will be better equipped to critique it, see the fault lines, and propose solutions.

I gave a great deal of thought to what would be an apt title for this book. Since the crisis of 2008, there has been a push by educators to help students become financially literate. Although this often means giving students information about balancing their checkbooks, I believe students need to have a working knowledge of the whole financial sector. Otherwise, they won’t have enough money in their checkbooks to calculate a balance.

The financial sector directly affects students’ lives and their future, and it behooves us to attempt to provide information that can help them sort out and learn more about this extremely important topic. Therefore, I wanted students to be financially literate in a real world sense and know how the whole financial system works. Since Wall Street is an apt metaphor for the financial sector, I put the two ideas together into the title: Financial Literacy: Wall Street and How it Works.   

So please join with me in peeling back the layers and exposing the inner workings of the financial sector, an important and influential part of the global economy. I hope you will find this holistic approach to the financial sector a journey that is both challenging and worthwhile.

Table of Contents

  1. The Financial Sector: An Overview
  2. Financial Crises
  3. Ten Fatal Flaws in the Financial Sector: Part I
  4. Ten Fatal Flows in the Financial Sector: Part II
  5. The Financial Crisis of 2007-2008
  6. The Aftermath of the 2008 Financial Crisis

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Joan Brodsky Schur, co-author with Denise Ames of the Middle East Lesson Plan, has just published an article in Euro Clio (European Assoc. of History Educators), A Historical Memory: Thinking Critically about Museums and Monuments with Students. Great for educators!

 

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