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Oppedahl to launch Money Smart Week

Federal Reserve economist to speak Thursday

April 14, 2013
By JESSE HELLING, , Messenger News

An economist from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago will help kick off Money Smart Week in Fort Dodge.

David Oppedahl will present "Looking Out for Small Business" at 11:30 a.m. Thursday at CANA, 18 S. Third Street.

Oppedahl is a business economist in the economic research department at the bank. He conducts research on the agricultural sector and rural development as well as conducting microeconomic research and directs the Chicago Federal Reserve District's survey of agricultural banks on agricultural land values and credit conditions.

"That ties in very strongly with the Iowa economy," Oppedahl said. "I'll talk about the economy is kind of general terms, breaking down specific sections."

The economic downturn of the past five years has had, in some cases, positive effect on small businesses.

In particular, continually low interest rates can be beneficial in aiding finance of business startups and expansions.

Fact Box

ISU?Extension family finance specialist explains why financial literacy should matter to everyone

April 20-27 is officially designated as Money Smart Week in Iowa. In fact, the entire month of April is Financial Literacy month. The purpose of these special designations is to remind people to think about their financial well-being and also to provide opportunities for financial education.

But who needs "money smarts" anyway?

Of course, there are lots of possible answers to that question. The first group many people think about is young people - kids, teens and young adults - and rightly so. There is plenty of research showing that the average young adult is ill-prepared for financial decision-making; scores on Jump$tart's biennial financial literacy survey have never been impressive, and declined to below 50 percent on the most recent survey. That's particularly worrisome since many decisions with long-lasting financial impact (employment, acquiring debt, buying homes, beginning families) are made in early adulthood.

Research has also shown that women lag behind men in financial literacy. (Lest there be any spousal quarrels out there, I hasten to point out that these findings are averages, and do not apply to any specific individuals!) It's also logical to conclude that anyone who finds themselves in a new financial situation would greatly benefit from financial education - examples might include first-time home-buyers, people whose incomes have changed dramatically (whether increased or decreased), and immigrants from other countries.

Another group that benefits from financial education is employers. You may wonder if that makes sense, but here's how it works: employers benefit when their employees increase their financial knowledge and skills. It makes sense, doesn't it? Employees who have their finances in order will be more productive. Employers who provide financial education show results that include improvement in workplace productivity, employee morale, and company loyalty along with reduced absenteeism, turnover, workplace distractions, and operational risk ( .

So we have some answers about who needs "money smarts." But let's think about that a second time.

Perhaps the right question is really this one: who doesn't need money smarts?

The average Iowan (like the average American) got only three out of five quiz questions correct in the US Financial Capability Study conducted by FINRA, the Investor Education Foundation. (Note: the quiz questions were quite basic - find them at And even those who are very well-informed need on-going learning opportunities in order to stay up-to-date in our ever-changing financial environment.

Obviously, then, we can all benefit from on-going financial education. I encourage you to take advantage of local learning opportunities during Money Smart Week and all year round. Watch for the Money Smart Week insert in The Messenger on Tuesday. Money Smart Week is sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago; details and local events are found at

Find more information on personal finance at or, or contact me through the Webster County ISU Extension, 576-2119 or directly at 832-9597 or Subscribe to our blog at

"Entrepreneurship is a part of the presentation," said Oppedahl. "We try to help people understand what is available."

Before starting his career at the Chicago Fed as an associate economist in 1998, Oppedahl was a consultant in the economic research department at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.

Oppedahl received a degree in mathematics from Wheaton College and a master's degree in statistics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He also completed graduate-level course work in economics while attending Southern Methodist University.



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