Every winter, as college football and basketball players are preparing to face off against each other on ESPN, other students are focusing on a very different sort of competition.
The only uniforms you’ll see them sporting are business suits. These teams may be small, consisting of 3-5 players, but they are mighty, as demonstrated by their fierce intellect and dedication to their field of study. This field is economics, and it would appear as though they are outstanding in it. Their stadium is an important bank.
The College Fed Challenge is a yearly three-day competition hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
It is described as “an unforgettable experience in economic analysis, monetary policy decision-making, public speaking and teamwork.”
That certainly seems to be true.
The students competing are seeking real world economic experience and this challenge offers exactly that. Teams not only observe what central bankers do on a daily basis, but they step into their shoes and try their hand at the challenging monetary policymaking work that the bankers do. This involves making recommendations for a new monetary policy course and analyzing economic trends and conditions.
Aside from giving students great experience in the field, the competition also serves to help promote the discipline of economics as both a course of study and as a career for college students everywhere.
The competing teams face off after being placed in two divisions. These divisions are known as Liberty Street and Maiden Lane, and the placement of team depends on the economic courses the students on each team have taken.
The Fed helps student prepare by hosting orientation meetings as well as a bootcamp.
Students from any school in the Second District of the Federal Reserve may form a team and compete.
Competition is fierce, though. The 2016 competition saw 41 teams square off in the first round while only 11 advanced to the semi-finals.
This year’s highest prize went to Rutger’s University–New Brunswick with Columbia University’s team finishing in second place and Mercy College finishing third. Among their other competitors were North Carolina’s Appalachian State University, Dartmouth College, Princeton University and the University of Chicago.
Rutgers’ team made clear how nervous they were before their victory, and who could blame them? They were appearing before a panel of judges consisting of Federal Reserve Senior Advisor Ellen Meade, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago Senior Economist William Strauss, and Federal Reserve Bank of New York Vice President Argia Sbordone.
The team had prepared extensively, almost memorizing their presentations, but no matter how hard they worked, they knew that there would be unexpected challenges ahead.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, they had spent their entire Fall semester spending 15 hours every week reading economic news reports, extensive papers written by academics in the field, and the blog of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, never skipping its footnotes.
From the looks of it, all their hard work certainly paid off, resulting in an accomplishment that they can be proud of.
Samuel O’Brient grew up in western Massachusetts, though most of his days are spent at Sarah Lawrence College in Westchester, New York. His time there is spent studying business communications and serving as editor in chief of the SLC Economic Review. As a writer, journalist, and blogger, he has written for many different online venues on a variety of topics. When he’s not working on his blog, Samuel can often be found sailing, on the golf course, or on the tennis court.