Who Knows?

How much does the public at large know about finance?


Financial literacy (or lack thereof) is a major concern these days, as workers confront diminished 401(k) balances (see related story, "Are Target Funds on Target?") and a very uncertain outlook regarding jobs, government bailouts, and other major economic news. Just what does the public know and expect when it comes to financial news and the impact that current events have on their personal finances?

1) Which of these major economic news items is the public least aware of (based on percentage who knew the correct answer)?
A. The current unemployment rate
B. The country holding the most U.S. debt
C. Timothy Geithner's job title
D. The automaker not receiving federal loans

2) The same survey found a notable difference in the ability of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents to cite the current Dow Jones Industrial Average. How did the three groups fare, from best to worst?
A. Republicans, Democrats, Independents
B. Democrats, Republicans, Independents
C. Independents, Republicans, Democrats
D. Republicans, Independents, Democrats

3) Percentage of Americans who thought the DJIA was approximately 3,000 as of the final week of March:
A. 5%
B. 15%
C. 20%
D. 35%

4) Percentage of Americans who grade themselves a C or worse in terms of their financial literacy:
A. 31%
B. 41%
C. 51%
D. 61%

5) Percentage of Americans who say they understand the current economic situation and related government policies well or fairly well:
A. 33%
B. 43%
C. 53%
D. 73%

6) Percentage of Americans who say they do not save anything for retirement:
A. 15%
B. 25%
C. 53%
D. 73%

7) While a majority of Americans say they are spending less now than a year ago, what is the percent who say they would resume previous spending habits if the economy turns around?
A. 45%
B. 55%
C. 65%
D. 75%

8) Percentage of Americans who believe that companies will reinstate annual salary increases that match or exceed inflation when the economy improves:
A. 26%
B. 36%
C. 46%
D. 66%

Answers: 1–D; 2–D; 3–C; 4–B; 5–A; 6–C; 7–A; 8–B


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