Economic Terms for Middle School and High School Students

Page content

Understanding the economic crisis is a daunting task, even for people who are financially literate.For middle school and high school teachers, it is a challenging topic that can come up in class discussions during almost every subject - even if it is not being taught as part of a unit.

This article is meant as a companion to the other articles in this series, but can also be used as a reference for teachers and homeschoolers trying to explain the financial crisis and important economic terms to their students.

Frequently Used Terms

  • New York Stock Exchange (NYSE)
    An exchange for trading stocks and bonds.It has a long history and many international stocks are traded on the NYSE. (Visit to find out more about the history of the NYSE.

  • Bull market
    Put simply; it’s when a market is doing very well.

  • Bear market
    The opposite of a Bull market; a downward trend lasting two or more months.

  • DJIA
    The Dow Jones Industrial Average or the Dow. It is the average price of 30 industrial stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange.

    System that deals with the pricing of over-the-counter (OTC) stocks.OTC basically means that the financial instrument is not being traded on a traditional exchange such as the NYSE.

  • **Prime rate
    **The rate banks charge to lend money to their best or prime customers. Find the current prime rate here.

    The London Interbank Offered Rate. It is the rate at which creditworthy banks in the London market can borrow short-term funds from one another.

  • Real Income
    The buying power of an individual’s, nation’s, or corporation’s income.It is actual income adjusted for the prices of goods and services. An increase in income must be equal to or greater than any increase in price in order for real income to remain the same or grow.

  • Recession
    The nation’s economic growth is measured by the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).Two consecutive quarters of a negative GDP indicates a recession and is felt across the board through higher unemployment, reduced retail sales and lower real income.

  • Depression
    A prolonged period of time in which supply exceeds demand.It involves increased unemployment and declining prices.

  • Derivative
    A financial instrument that derives its value from an underlying asset. An option to buy stock, or call option, in Company X at $100 is a derivative. The value of Company X’s stock is the underlying asset.

  • Bailout
    The government’s attempted rescue of failing banks, corporations and markets.

This post is part of the series: Understanding the Financial Crisis

This series will discuss financial crises and financial market bubbles and crashes. The articles contain lesson plans that culminate with the class divided into four groups representing four stock market crashes; each group will write a skit about a person who loses money during their crash.

  1. Stock Market Crashes: Today & Yesterday
  2. Stock Market Crashes: Three Crashes from Times Gone By
  3. Reacting to the Financial Crisis: Psychology & Investing
  4. Frequently Used Economic Terms for Lesson Plans