New Perspectives on Money

How can you keep track of your income and expenses as easily as possible? Will prices continue to rise? Will there only be digital money? What does this mean for democracy and the influence of citizens on the economy? What is money? International workshop on financial literacy.

From 16 to 20 July 2023, adult learners from Slovakia, Bulgaria, Portugal and Germany came together to discuss issues around money – in their own wallets, the economy as a whole. They learned about the difference between microeconomic and macroeconomic views of the economy. They applied digital and non-digital means to keep better track of their income and expenditure. They learned what it is like to be in debt and what ways out there are. For this purpose, they visited the debt counselling Julateg in Berlin-Marzahn. The participants learned about money investment strategies, even if this was rather theoretical for them, because for that you need… money.

What is money?

What it is and how money is being created was discussed at the beginning of the workshop. The two money flow in an economy were introduced. It also became clear how countries in the euro zone finance themselves. Linked to this was information on the financial system and its various players such as commercial banks and central banks, stock exchanges, hedge funds, pension funds, asset managers such as BlackRock, rating agencies and others.

Money and money behaviour

Dealing with money also has a socio-psychological dimension. This concerns learned attitudes towards money. While some see it as “dirty” and recall the dance around the golden calf in the Bible, others praise it as the epitome of freedom. This also applies to the orientation towards the behavioural patterns of the middle class, even if one’s own wallet is considerably smaller. Why is this so?

Financial literacy as part of socio-economic learning

Financial education is currently being heavily promoted. The website of the Federal Ministry of Finance states:

„Strengthening financial education thus also leads to a greater willingness and ability to participate in the financial market and contributes to wealth accumulation. Moreover, a high level of financial education contributes to financial market stability.” 1

Accordingly, one could think that financial literacy aims at being able to invest one’s money skilfully on the financial markets. Financial education for the rich, so to speak. For those who have few resources, it provides instructions on how to avoid over-indebtedness. Financial education for the poor, so to speak.

But this view is controversial. This would deprive students of a view of the monetary system as a whole. However, whether or not there is currently inflation and why crises occur also influences personal monetary behaviour in the here and now. Even more: financial education may contribute to “financial market stability”, as the BMF writes. But financial crises are systemic crises of the banking sector and its political regulation. It is important to make these connections clear. Therefore, the workshop considered financial literacy as part of socio-economic learning.

The circle was closed when the group discussed facets of the euro crisis since 2009 at the end of the programme and at their own request.

What do the participants say?

I gained a new perspective on money.” “I was able to learn how to manage my budget.” “We discovered many things in common.” (Slovak and Bulgarian participants about each other) “It was great that we had time to discuss.” “I really liked the variety of non-formal methods.

1 Federal Ministry of Finances

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