By Sabrina Garone
On Nov. 18, students from Sacred Heart University competed in the semi-finals of the College Fed Challenge, an annual economics competition held by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The competition gives students the opportunity to play the role of monetary policymakers and present their economic proposals to a panel of judges, all members of the New York Fed staff.
Universities within the the Federal Reserve’s Second District, N.Y. and select counties of Conn. and N.J., are eligible to compete.
The team made it to the semi-finals by scoring 47 points out of a possible 50. They are the first team from Connecticut to ever reach this stage of competition. Competition took place at the Federal Reserve headquarters in Manhattan’s downtown financial district.
“The Fed Challenge is a great opportunity for students because it deals with the current state of the economy and allows them to apply classroom theory to real-world issues,” said Gerald McCloghry, economics professor and advisor of the Sacred Heart team. “They discover confidence in public speaking, defending a point of view, working with others who have different ideas and being serious about their work without taking themselves too seriously.”
The team of 10 was assembled at the end of last semester. Any student with a talent for finance and economics was welcomed to join the team.
“I found out about the Fed Challenge through a friend at the end of last year,” said junior Nicole Esposito, a participant in the College Fed Challenge. “I was immediately drawn to it because I’ve always enjoyed economics, and being able to research the data myself made the competition even more appealing.”
In preparation for competition, each team member is responsible for researching a particular area of the economy, such as labor markets or consumer sectors. Research must be preformed daily to ensure that the team is working from the most current data.
Professors in the economics and business departments gave the students guidance and feedback on their economic findings. After the individual has optimized their research, the team comes together to organize their slideshow presentation.
“Based on our research, we decide whether the Federal Reserve should increase or maintain an accommodative policy,” said senior Lucia Melgar, chair of the team. “After we settle on a monetary policy stance, we continue to prepare for the competition by practicing questions. Questions can cover topics as broad as the underlying operations of monetary policy, or as specific as the reasoning for choosing a certain graph included in our slideshow.”
There are two parts to the first two rounds of competition.
First, the team is given 15 minutes to present their slideshow, which includes their current economic views, forecasts and risks and policy alternatives. The second part is a 15 minute question and answer with the judges.
“I think I speak for everyone involved by saying we have grown tremendously over the course of the challenge by learning so much within our designated sectors and applying that knowledge to make economic projections,” said Esposito.
However, the team did not move on to the finals, which were held later the same day, but received an honorable mention for their performance in the semi-finals.
“We have always worked well together and kept the meetings informative, yet fun.” said Esposito.
Despite the loss, the students involved enjoyed the challenging, yet rewarding experience.
“My teammates are all exceptionally smart and hard working individuals, and I am proud of each and everyone of them,” said Melgar. “The idea that you are not going into the competition on your own, but with teammates that are just as well prepared and willing to go the extra mile is a great feeling.”