A team of Saint Rose students took second place in the 2021 College Fed Challenge, Maiden Lane Division, which was held virtually in November and sponsored by the Federal Reserve Board. Designed to bring real-world economics into the classroom, the competition challenges teams to play the role of monetary policymakers by analyzing economic conditions and recommending a course for monetary policy including inflation, employment, and housing. Featuring two rounds of competition, teams present an economic analysis via recorded video and then engage in a vigorous question and answer session with judges who are economists and experts on monetary policy.
Senior transfer student and marketing major Grace Lafountain ’22 coached the team of four who were taking their first introductory economics class. With only one week to prepare, they had to review all the Fed Reserve terminology, examine the challenge’s case study, and prepare a five-minute presentation. Each team member was required to participate equally and answer at least one question from the judges or points were deducted.
“We met virtually every day for five days,” said Lafountain. “Despite never working together in person, the team collaborated well together. Each member was so determined to win and increase their economic proficiency. I was impressed by their motivation and work ethic. It was a true group effort.”
Charles Murray, assistant professor of economics, mentored the team and credits their “energy and enthusiasm” as a factor in placing so high.
“They didn’t really know what they were up against. The other teams have more economics, more preparation, and more experience competing,” said Murray. “Many of these schools offer a course specifically to prepare for the Fed Challenge.”
Saint Rose teams have placed second three of the five times they have competed in the annual challenge.
The competition “offers students the opportunity to concisely and coherently analyze a situation, make a sound policy recommendation based on the data, and then support it,” said Murray. “It takes teamwork and the ability to think on their feet.”
Leading the team afforded Lafountain the chance to strengthen her leadership skills. She was tasked with teaching the competition’s case study, explaining how the Fed approaches policy, and ensuring the video was completed and submitted on time, despite never having participated in a challenge before.
“Personally, I’m a lot more confident in my leadership skills. This experience has helped me in other group projects, and that confidence will stay with me forever,” she said.