Hamilton’s Fed Challenge team earned an Honorable Mention at the semi-final competition held at the New York Federal Reserve Bank in Manhattan on Friday, Nov. 18. Forty-one teams competed in the initial round in early November. The Hamilton team, Professor Ann Owen’s Monetary Policy class, was among 11 institutions to earn a semi-final berth.
In preparing for their second-round of competition, the students experienced first-hand how policy makers deal with the unexpected as they quickly updated their policy recommendations in the face of increased post-election uncertainty about fiscal policy. Owen explained the team’s challenge. “The election was on the Nov. 8. On the 9th, everybody was digesting the unexpected election outcome, but we had to deliver our final written presentation to the Fed the morning of the 10th. So, we were really scrambling on the 9th to figure out what it all meant.
“It was a great experience to help the students to understand what it feels like to realize an unexpected shock but to understand that the Fed still has to do the best it can. One of the difficult things about teaching about policy from a classroom is that hindsight is always 20/20. The Fed Challenge makes the students experience policy making more in the moment.”
The presenters at the Federal Reserve in Manhattan were seniors Chandler Elwyn, Jake Menges, Hannah Rubin, Rui Osaka, and Alex Klosner, although the entire class participated in preparing the presentation and in helping the team practice answering questions. This year, College trustees Rich Bernstein ’80 and David Solomon ’84 also participated in a practice session, helping the students prepare for the competition by challenging them to defend their position. Other Hamilton economics professors assisted in a similar manner in preparing students for the second round.
Following each presentation, judges, who are economists at the Federal Reserve, pose questions to each team. The competition is intended to encourage students to learn more about the U.S. macro economy, the Federal Reserve and the implementation of monetary policy and financial stability.
The Arthur Levitt Public Affairs Center sponsors the Fed Challenge.