It Ain't Exactly Uncle Scrooge, But...

Yo! Who says the stodgy Federal Reserve Bank of New York can't be hip? It's updating its series of educational comic books designed to teach kids about economics and finance. The Story of Banks, revised this fall, explains banking through the story of three teens who start a pretzelmaking business. One of the boys sports a turned-around baseball cap, the girl wears black leggings, and the banker is an African-American. The dialogue uses bad puns ("chills from too many overdrafts" kill a bank) rather than in-your-face, 1990S humor. But compare the new version with the 1979 book, where the star is a balding, white-male banker and the only minority is a black teller.

The New York Fed has produced the series since 1958, giving away to schools upwards of 500,000 comic books a year. Books on trade and other topics also are being updated. While aimed at kids, the comics lure others. Some members of Congress requested the one on trade during the debate over the North American Free Trade Agreement.

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