An Elon team played monetary policymakers in the Federal Reserve’s annual competition.
A team of Elon undergraduate students presented an economic analysis and monetary policy recommendations during the 2020 College Fed Challenge.
The team discussed current economic conditions, the forecast of near-term economic and financial conditions, significant risks to the economy, and monetary policy proposals, modeling a Federal Open Market Committee meeting.
Representing Elon in the Federal Reserve competition were JD Grant ’23, Natalie Ivanov ’22, Sara Katherine Loos ’22, Maria Mendoza ’22 and Liam O’Connor ’22. Assistant Professors of Economics Vitaliy Strohush and Brandon Sheridan mentored the students.
“Gathering and synthesizing data, creating graphs, and developing a comprehensive recommendation required curiosity, self-motivation, and drew on many other courses while allowing me the opportunity to apply my knowledge beyond the classroom,” said Ivanov, a finance and accounting double major.
“Participating in the Fed Challenge broadened my understanding of the economy and policy, and fostered teamwork and professionalism,” Mendoza, an economics major, shared. “I was able to work with my peers and gain mock experience of what the Federal Reserve does on a daily basis. This experience has been one of the most rewarding at Elon.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s competition format allowed schools outside the current Fed Challenge districts to compete in a new “at-large” region. Elon was one of 85 schools from across the nation who submitted video presentations or participated in local virtual competitions.
“The Fed Challenge really focused on the word ‘challenge’ this year,” Sheridan said. “In addition to a faster timeline and recording a virtual submission, we also had to consider how to conduct monetary policy in one of the most tumultuous economies in over a decade. Students rose to meet the challenge and I’m very proud of their perseverance in learning about complex Fed programs and how to digest uneven, and sometimes inaccurate, economic data. They did an excellent job and should feel confident walking into any job interview where they will be asked about the economy.”
A panel of judges, who are experts in economics and monetary policy, scored teams on economic analysis, teamwork and presentation.
“Through doing Fed Challenge I greatly improved my research abilities, heavily expanded my knowledge of the economy and its underlying factors, and met some incredible people and friends who are always willing to support each other,” said Grant, a cinema and television arts and economics double major. “Participating in the Fed Challenge has significantly benefited my Elon experience and has given me more confidence in all of my other business courses.”
“The Fed Challenge is experiential learning at its finest,” shared O’Connor, an economics major. “With the experience of working with a team performing real-time data analysis, I have a ubiquitous example to use for nearly any interview question.
“It also allowed me to sit confidently at the Thanksgiving dining table ready to discuss, ‘What’s wrong with the economy?’ And make sense,” he said.