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National Standards for 'Savings and Investing Blitz'

National Standard Number: 12
INTEREST RATES: Students will understand that: Interest rates, adjusted for inflation, rise and fall to balance the amount saved with the amount borrowed, which affects the allocation of scarce resources between present and future uses.

Students will be able to use this knowledge to: Explain situations in which they pay or receive interest, and explain how they would react to changes in interest rates if they were making or receiving interest payments.

Interest rates influence the borrowing and saving of business investors, consumers, and government agencies. Most people are unfamiliar with interest rates until they wish to borrow money for a major purchase such as an automobile, college education, or a house. When they enter the market for credit they encounter an unfamiliar price (the interest rate) offered by an unfamiliar business (a financial institution). It is necessary for students to understand that interest rates are determined by market forces that balance savings and borrowing. For many people, interest rates can represent significant financial costs and significant financial benefits over a lifetime.

It is also important for students to understand the incentive effects of interest rates. Interest payments compensate savers for postponing current consumption; they compensate lenders for the risk that borrowers might default on their loans; and they cover the cost of expected inflation over the term of the loan.