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AU Economic Students Win 2014 Regional District Fed Challenge

By Patty Housman

Photo of the Eccles Building in Washington, D.C., which serves as the Federal Reserve System's headquarters.

The Eccles Building in Washington, DC, which serves as the Federal Reserve System's headquarters.

For the third year in a row, AU economic students won the regional district College Fed Challenge. They are one of three university teams that advanced to the semi-final competition round at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.  

The competition challenges teams of university students to analyze economic conditions in the United States and recommend appropriate courses of monetary policy. The challenge is sponsored by Federal Reserve Banks, and judges in the final rounds are Federal Reserve staff members.

The AU Team

Professor of economics Evan Kraft advised the AU team for the third year. Team members included senior economic students Adam Treece, Zareef Hamid, John Pedersen, and Joseph Shadel—all volunteers who came together during an Economics 480 class. 

“It’s a big commitment. If we are successful, we travel to all the competitions,” said Kraft. “And of course this means lots of preparation.”  


The Challenge 

The challenge is two-fold. “First the teams do a presentation, which includes their analysis of what is currently going on in the U.S. economy and recommendations for what they believe the Fed should be doing about it,” said Kraft. Second, they must answer questions from the judges. 

“This part is very challenging,” said Kraft. He added that the questions have ranged from whether the dual mandate should be changed, to whether or not the Federal Reserve should alter its policies about purchasing bonds. “Teamwork is very important because multiple members of the team must all answer all the questions together.” 


The Team

Kraft said he is proud of the team's performance. They presented effectively, calmly, and with time to spare,” he said. “Their answers to questions were thoughtful. Importantly, all of the team members participated very extensively both in the presentations and in the Q&A.”  

Kraft points out that the preparation and learning involved in the challenge is part of the reward. “Participating in the challenge is a big motivator and confidence booster for students,” he said. After graduation, previous team members have gone to jobs in the government, and to graduate programs at the London School of Economics, the University of Chicago, the University of North Carolina, and Duke. “It’s really exciting for students to exchange ideas with economists and other experts in the field.”