College Fed Challenge

2014 Competition
Final Results
First Place
Pace University
Second Place
Rutgers University - New Brunswick
Third Place
Columbia University
Honorable Mention
Hamilton College, Manhattan College, New York Institute of Technology, Rutgers University - Newark, St. Francis College, SUNY - Oneonta

First Round Results
The following nine schools are advancing on to the College Fed Challenge semi-finals:
Columbia University
Hamilton College
Manhattan College
New York Institute of Technology
Pace University
Rutgers University, New Brunswick
Rutgers University, Newark
St. Francis College
SUNY - Oneonta

Schedule
Event Details Student Orientation* First Round of Competition Semi-Finals and Finals
Date
Tuesday, September 16
Friday,
October 31
Friday, November 14
Time
8:30 AM – 12:30 PM
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
8:00 AM – 5:00 PM
Venue
BMCC Tribeca Performing Arts Center
199 Chambers St.
New York, NY 10007
Federal Reserve Bank of New York
33 Liberty St.
New York, NY 10045
Federal Reserve Bank of New York
33 Liberty St.
New York, NY 10045

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York would like to thank the City University of New York and Borough of Manhattan Community College for hosting the 2014 student orientation.

Competition Guidelines
Each team consists of 3-5 students and 1 faculty advisor. All teams must follow the rules and code of conduct of the competition to participate.
Rules

First round

  • Teams consist of three to five undergraduate students who all attend the same college.
  • A school may only enter one team.
  • The only individuals allowed in the room during the presentation are team members and judges. Faculty advisors are not allowed into the room.
  • The team's performance consists of two parts: a 15-minute presentations and a 15-minutes Q&A session.
  • The judges may ask any questions at their discretion. These may include questions on the team presentation, on hypothetical situations, and on current economic issues.
  • The format of the presentation is flexible (i.e. mock FOMC, talk show, business presentation) ; however each team’s presentation must:

    • Address current economic and financial conditions
    • Forecast near-term changes in economic and financial conditions of critical importance to monetary policy (such as unemployment, inflation, and output)
    • Identify possible economic and financial issues that might present either positive or negative risks to the economy
    • Recommend a monetary policy response
  • There is no explicit penalty for reading from a script; however judges are responsible for evaluating the team’s knowledge, command of economic concepts, and information used in the presentation and they may take reading or memorized script as evidence of less thorough understanding.
  • Teams may not identify their school either in their written presentation or orally.
  • Teams are only allowed to use paper presentations and handouts. No computers or projectors will be available in the presentation rooms.
  • Teams must bring three paper copies of their handouts for the judges.

Semi-final round

All rules and procedures for the semi-final round are the same as the first round with one exception: Teams must bring two copies of their handouts.

Final round

All rules and procedures for the final round are the same as the first round with one exception: The final round will not include any formal presentation. Teams will be judged exclusively on their performance during a 30 minutes Q&A session.

The winning team will be invited to the National College Fed Challenge at the Board of Governors in Washington, D.C.

Code of Conduct

In order to foster an efficient and respectful environment to successfully participate in the College Fed Challenge, students, faculty advisors, and judges are reminded of the following:

  • The New York Fed College Fed Challenge is an educational program that aims to encourage students to learn more about the Federal Reserve System and to spur interest in economics and finance as the basis for a possible career in economics and/or finance.
  • Participants should conduct themselves professionally, respectfully, and with integrity during all the events that constitute the New York Fed College Fed Challenge.
  • Participants should not engage in verbal or physical behavior that, according to reasonable sensibilities, stigmatizes or victimizes an individual on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, or disability.
  • Participants should not engage in verbal or physical behavior that threatens or harms any individual involved in the New York Fed College Fed Challenge.
  • Students and faculty advisors should not approach the judges with questions, comments, or concerns about the judging process, the feedback or the scoring of teams. These questions, comments and concerns should be referred to the New York Fed Economic Education staff on site who will address them.
  • Failure to follow the code of conduct might result in the participant and the team’s immediate disqualification from the College Fed Challenge and from other current and/or future educational programs organized by the New York Fed.

How to Participate
How to Put Together a Team

A team consists of three to five students, who all attend the same college or university. A team can be put together in a number of ways:

  • As part of an extracurricular activity. The team is made up of student volunteers who work on the Fed Challenge as an out-of-class activity. An advantage of extracurricular recruiting is the advantage of having returning participants, who can relate, first-hand, their experiences from the previous year's Challenge.
  • As the result of a class- or school-based competition. The class is divided into teams. Each team makes a presentation before the rest of the class; the team with the best presentation goes on to represent the school. An alternative is the "all-star" approach, in which the five best presenters in class are chosen. Or team selection can be extended to all the classes in a school by choosing either a best-of-school team or a team of the school's best presenters.
  • By teacher selection. A teacher assembles a team on the basis of overall performance, some in-class assignment, or expressed interest in the subject.

Other class members can get involved by taking part in team activities such as:

  • gathering and analyzing data and useful background information,
  • researching important concepts and issues that are likely to be important to monetary policy,
  • preparing charts and other parts of the presentation,
  • judging practice sessions and providing feedback, and
  • serving as an alternate team member in case of team member absence on the day of the competition.
Competition Procedures FAQs

How are competition dates selected?

Dates are chosen based on the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut academic calendars. Once tentative dates are selected, the New York Fed staff notifies last year’s advisors by e-mail and posts the schedule on the Fed’s public website.

How many competition dates are there?

There is one preliminary competition day and one semi-final/final day. The semi-final and final competitions are held on one day, with the semi-final round taking place in the morning and the finals in the afternoon.

What are brackets?

A bracket is a group of teams that compete against each other in a competition round. All the teams in a bracket face the same judges and compete in the same room. The winner of each bracket moves on to the next round of competition. The preliminary round of the Fed Challenge can include as many as 9 brackets, each with up to four teams. The semi-final round has 3 brackets, each with three teams. Three teams compete in the final round.

How are teams assigned to brackets and preliminary competition dates?

Teams are assigned at random to brackets. Under extenuating circumstances, the New York Fed may assign a team to compete at a specific preliminary competition time. This accommodation, however, is not guaranteed.

Who are the competition judges and how are they assigned to brackets?

Judges consist of New York Fed economists and staff who are experts on economics and monetary policy. Judging teams are assigned at random to the brackets.

What happens if a judge knows one of the team participants or can identify the team?

Although we make every effort to keep team identities secret (and teams that identify their school have points deducted from their score), sometimes a judge realizes in the midst of competition that he or she knows the team or students.

The College Fed Challenge handles this through an honor system. Judges are on their honor to judge fairly and impartially. If a judge believes he/she cannot be impartial, this is reported to the head judge as soon as possible. The head judge makes the final decision; the judge with the conflict can either continue if he/she can be impartial; otherwise leave the room. The head judge may choose to consult Fed Challenge staff but his/her decision is final. The head judge will announce that the departing judge will not be participating further.


How to Prepare
Creating a Presentation

Teams must make two decisions when preparing their presentations: (1) data and (2) format.

Data

There is a wealth of economic data available from a wide variety of sources, and it is easy to get lost in a morass of detail. Choose the economic indicators that you think are most relevant to the current economic situation and organize them to tell your story.

It is the teams’ job to figure out which are the most important indicators and how to use them. Different indicators are important to understanding the economy and determining monetary policy at different points in time. Teams should be prepared to defend their choice of unusual data.

The St. Louis Fed FRED provides a helpful tool in creating graphs and charts for a wide array of data series.

Format

Although there is no prescribed format for a Fed Challenge presentation, teams generally present in one of three ways:

Research-style presentation

Team members put together their presentation in a logical way, beginning with an economic overview and ending with a monetary policy recommendation. Then they break the presentation apart, assigning a logical component to each participant and using visuals for the indicators most critical to their recommendation. For example, the first team member could open with a statement summarizing overall conditions, such as "Many economists have described our economy as being in a soft patch," and then follow with the team's forecast for the general economy and a discussion of current debates and FOMC policy options. A second team member might turn to an in-depth examination of current economic conditions and their implications for the near term. A third and fourth member could extend the examination, highlighting another two or three indicators in the process. Charts and other visual devices should be used for data relevant to the team's ultimate recommendation. The summary and the recommendation would then be presented by the team's fifth member. This presenter should probably address two or three policy options before focusing in on the course of action that's most consistent with the team's collective insights, and a suggested wording for the statement.

FOMC role play

With this approach, the five team members play the role of Reserve Bank presidents discussing economic and financial conditions, which often results in participants' putting forth different monetary policy prescriptions. For example, referring to a chart of an economic indicator, one "Bank president" might say, "Given the GDP increases in each one of the last four quarters, I think we should raise interest rates by 25 basis points. A second president might counter: "No, interest rates should stay where they are. Despite the GDP data, this chart reveals that Nonfarm Payroll Employment has recently peaked and that fears that the economy will overheat are no longer relevant." The role play continues, with each recommendation supported by data of particular importance for that issue. Discussions end with a vote, as do real FOMC meetings, and an articulation of whatever consensus is reached in the form of an FOMC statement.

Television news panel

This format has one team member acting as moderator and the other four serving as expert panelists. The moderator refers to the upcoming meeting of the FOMC and may set up the discussion by summarizing economic conditions. The moderator solicits the views of the panel who take turns, each focusing on a different set of variables and interpreting the implications for the forecast and policy, while showing charts or other visual devices that illustrate their points. Panelists can conclude their segments with a recommendation for short-term interest rates and make their own "statements" or have the moderator sum up the group's view in the form of a single statement.

Effective Delivery and Preparing for the Q&A

Basic Presentation Rules

  • Students may refer to, but not read from, notes or scripts.
  • Each team member must play a substantial role in making the presentation and answering judges' questions.
  • More than one team member may answer a judge's question.
  • Team members may "huddle" to formulate a response to a judge's question; however, lengthy and excessive conferences may result in points being deducted if it significantly limits the number of questions posed.

The Fed Challenge will help you develop the presentation skills needed to perform well before any audience: speaking naturally, making eye contact, listening to and answering questions effectively.

Familiarity with the material is extremely important. The best presenters speak naturally because they really understand the information.

Although a script may make students feel more comfortable, judges are paying more attention than in the past to whether students understand the basic concepts and information. Thus reciting or memorizing a script is not likely to help convince the judges or result in a high score. Hand-held cards to remind you of basic concepts or facts can be useful—although they probably should contain only a few words; cards that contain complete text tend to result in recitations, which don't convey deep understanding of the material and thus may cause the team to be penalized by the judges.

Scoring Rubric

Judges should award a score between 1 and 5 points, in each of the five categories on the master score sheet. Consult the scoring grid below for guidance in awarding points. Two points should be deducted from any team that displays its school’s name in an obvious manner.


Category Maximum Score Considerations Include:
Knowledge of current economic conditions 5
  • Demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of economic conditions relevant to the formulation of monetary policy
  • Presents accurate and up to date information on economic conditions
Understanding of monetary policy 5
  • Demonstrates a comprehensive understanding of monetary policy
  • Presents evidence of thinking critically about macroeconomic concepts
Data & Analysis 5
  • Conclusions drawn from the data are logical and insightful and are presented in a coherent manner
  • Recommendations are supported by relevant literature and data from various credible sources
Teamwork 5
  • Each team member plays a substantial role in the presentation
  • No one team member dominates the Q&A session
Total 20  

Program inquiries should be directed to Carmi Recto at mariacarmelita.recto@ny.frb.org.



Photos: 2014 College Fed Challege Winners
Related External Content
Contacts
Adrian Franco
Program Director
212 720-7499
adrian.franco@ny.frb.org

Maria Carmelita Recto
Economic Education Analyst
212 720-7965
mariacarmelita.recto@ny.frb.org