It is no wonder that so many Americans are in trouble with mortgages, credit cards, retirement programs and other matters in which basic financial literacy is important.
Many of them simply don’t understand the basics, to judge by a new report from the Federal Reserve Board.
And the situation is getting worse, according to the Fed.
Every two years, the Fed conducts a study on how much high school and college students know about personal finance and economics.
Students from throughout the country are asked questions on basic issues such as liability for stolen credit cards and what types of investments are likely to produce the best returns.
This year, high school seniors, on average, answered only 48.3 percent of the questions correctly.
That is noticeably worse than the 52.4 percent rate for 2006.
College students got the right answers only 62 percent of the time, on average.
Personal financial literacy isn’t a subject most Americans can afford to learn by experience.
The terrible messes in which many find themselves are, at least in part, a result of not knowing the basics.
Obviously, that needs to be addressed better in the nation’s schools.