Reserve Your Place at the Federal Reserve

School of Business course gives students the opportunity to participate in the Federal Reserve Challenge Competition in New York City’s Financial District.

A course at Manhattan College’s School of Business gives new meaning to the word “challenge.”

The 400-level economics and finance elective titled Seminar in Microeconomics and Financial Markets helps students understand the causes of the current recession through hands-on competition in the Eastern Economic Association’s Federal Reserve Challenge held in New York City’s Financial District.

“Walking into the building, our group was anxiously catching up on the day’s economic news,” recalls Rachel Foscaldi ’12, a finance and economics major. “While our presentation was well-rehearsed, it was still nerve-wracking to be speaking to experts in the field who were so well-versed on the major topics that we focused on all semester.

The competition offers tremendous opportunities for students to experience what it’s like to become a part of our country’s monetary policy decision-making body.

“The greatest lesson learned from the experience is how much you can accomplish when you invest the time and effort into a project,” she adds.

The competition consisted of 29 teams of undergraduate business students, which presented for 15 minutes on the current state of the economy, the causes of the recent recession and the optimal future monetary policy. The teams had the chance to present their findings to experts who currently work at the Federal Reserve and judge the competition.

“The panel consisted of educators, Federal Reserve employees and industry professionals,” Foscaldi explains. “It was very exciting to present our findings to that panel of judges.”

In addition to helping develop critical thinking skills on economic issues, the class also strives to foster teamwork and cooperation among the students. These skills are essential to the course’s team-based final project and for preparing the team for rigorous training necessary for the challenge.

“The Fed Challenge is inspired by the work of the Federal Open Market Committee,” says Hany Guirguis, Ph.D., chair of the Economics and Finance department. “It is intended to encourage students to learn more about the U.S. macro economy and the Federal Reserve System and aims to spur interest in economics and finance as subjects for advanced study and as the basis for a career.”

Guirguis encouraged his class to “live the material,” which allowed students to apply what they learned in the classroom about monetary and fiscal policy to the development of a potential solution for the current state of the economy, the core of the challenge.

This competition also opened doors to new careers that some of the students had never considered before.

“The Federal Reserve offers some great opportunities for people like myself, who are interested in public finance,” Foscaldi says. “This competition offers tremendous opportunities for students to experience what it’s like to become a part of our country’s monetary policy decision-making body.”