MSU students place as finalists in national Federal Reserve competition

December 15, 2020 - Liz Schondelmayer

This fall, a team of undergraduate Spartans received an honorable mention in the Federal Reserve College Fed Challenge. Out of 85 competing university teams, the Spartans placed first in their district and tied for fourth place nationally. 

Described by the Federal Reserve as an opportunity for students to "learn about the U.S. economy, monetary policymaking, and the role of the Federal Reserve System," the competition asks participating teams to analyze current conditions and propose solutions for economic stimulation and job creation. 

Teams were expected to create a video presentation for a prestigious panel of judges, including senior advisors to the Federal Reserve Board. From there, semifinalists were selected to advance to the next stage of the competition, which involved answering questions directly from the judges about their project. Students were judged on their analysis, presentation skills, and ability to address the judges' questions and comments. 

Advising the team this year was associate professor of economics Dr. Antonio Doblas-Madrid. Dr. Doblas-Madrid noted that, despite everything that the students had to overcome this year, he was extremely impressed with their hard work and dedication to the competition. "To my knowledge, this is the best that MSU has ever placed since the team was formed over 10 years ago," explained Dr. Doblas-Madrid. 

The team's proposal centered around providing relief for communities hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. "Their idea was a perfect blend of originality and feasibility," explained Dr. Doblas-Madrid. "While their proposal was creative enough to stand out, it wasn't so creative that it couldn't be implemented."

While 5 students served as video presenters and team representatives to answer judges' questions, the other six supported the team as researchers. "Every student - whether they presented to the judges or did the research behind-the-scenes - needs to know how much I appreciate them and their value to the team," Dr. Doblas-Madrid reflected. 

The students on the MSU team were Nick Andolino, Aidan Claffey, Brandon Imirowicz, Harold Lobbins III, Gregory Marchal, Marcos Martinez, Jack Metty, Grayson Miller, Gabriel Reyes, Kylie Schram, and Providence Weatherwax. 

"This is the result of a fantastic group of people going the extra mile with hard work to build a project that we genuinely believe in," said team member Gregory Marchal. "Our ideas addressed both new and old problems with monetary policy and economics more broadly, and I believe that this process will help us make an impact beyond this competition.” 

Although the competition usually interests students majoring in economics and finance, it is open to any undergraduate Spartan from any discipline or department. There are two courses available to students interested in the competition, but students are allowed to join the team as an extracurricular activity as well. 

"We are so proud of this team and their remarkable accomplishments," said Dr. Steven Haider, chair of the Department of Economics. "MSU competes in one of most competitive districts, which includes teams from the University of Chicago, the University of Wisconsin, Northwestern, and Notre Dame, to name just a few.  Not only did our team make it into the finals coming from such a competitive district, but then they went on to place at the national level.  We couldn’t be prouder of them."

See the full list of finalists and winners here.