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December 12, 2019

Second District Triumphs in Annual College Fed Challenge

Pace University recently won the 16th annual national College Fed Challenge, a competition hosted by the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors. The winning team, which represented our district — the Fed’s Second District — included members Scarlett Bekus, Joseph Drennan, Sean Freda, Marissa Kleinbauer, and Dylan Seals, and was led by faculty advisors Greg Colman and Mark Weinstock. The Lower Manhattan-based school prevailed against teams from Harvard University, Loyola University Maryland, the University of Chicago, and the University of Pennsylvania.

The College Fed Challenge is part of the Fed’s efforts to build greater understanding of the Federal Reserve System and monetary policy through education. The competition is a unique opportunity for students to work directly with Federal Reserve researchers on issues related to today’s economy.

The Pace team with Chair Powell at the final competition in D.C.

Each year, hundreds of undergraduate students nationwide participate in the competition, which is designed to simulate meetings of the Federal Open Market Committee. The students play the role of monetary policymakers, analyzing economic conditions and formulating their own data-dependent monetary policy recommendations. Dr. Colman — who teaches economics in addition to advising the Pace team — described the College Fed Challenge as the “epitome of active learning,” as it allows students to apply and explain the economic principles they encounter in the classroom.

The Pace team at the New York Fed’s semi-final competition.

Teams in the program explore current topics in economics, including volatility in money markets, the FOMC’s challenge in reaching its 2 percent inflation target, and international headwinds to economic growth. As part of the competition, each team presents its outlook and recommendations for monetary policy, and then answers questions from a panel of judges that includes Fed economists and subject matter experts. “[The program] is unique as it forces the teams to go into detail in analyzing economic indicators, understanding how they were constructed, and what they mean,” Dr. Colman said. “It teaches students to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each indicator, and perhaps most importantly, it teaches them how to tell a story with data.”

Five regional Federal Reserve banks host their own College Fed Challenge competitions and send the winners to compete in the national final in Washington, D.C.

The CUNY Borough of Manhattan Community College team attends the final competition in D.C.

Prior to their national victory, the Pace team competed against 36 universities from across the Second District at the New York Fed’s College Fed Challenge. Each year, the New York Fed runs two sections of the competition: the Maiden Lane division, for students who have taken introductory-level economics courses, and the Liberty Street division, for those with more advanced knowledge of economics and monetary policy. The top team from the Liberty Street division goes on to compete at the national final, with the Maiden Lane winners invited along as observers.

Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) won this year’s Maiden Lane competition. The BMCC team included members Fabian Carchi, Daniel Bercovich, Afrym Hodzic, Herdeveinp Dorelle Ngoundou Ngoma, Yekutiail Blaustein, and Dieudonne Ndjebayi Sehled, all led by faculty advisors and finance professors Yanni Tournas and Julian Schroeder.

The CUNY Borough of Manhattan Community College team won the New York Fed’s Maiden Lane competition.
The CUNY Borough of Manhattan Community College team with Chair Powell in D.C.

The New York Fed also runs a High School Fed Challenge competition each year. Registration for high school students typically opens in January, ahead of the competition in March and April. College Fed Challenge registration for fall 2020 will open in August.

This article was originally published by the New York Fed on Medium.

The views expressed in this article are those of the contributing authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the New York Fed or the Federal Reserve System.


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