The College Fed Challenge is an annual inter-university competition in monetary policy design. At UNC, a team of three to five students undertakes research and data analysis under faculty supervision. They design their proposed monetary policy, and then travel to regional competitions to present their proposals before a panel of judges. At each competition the winner moves forward to face winners from other regions. At the pinnacle of this tournament a national champion is chosen, with judges from the staff of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors in Washington, D.C.
Carolina’s Federal Reserve Challenge Team, which is coached by Dr. Mike Aguilar, won the Region 3 (North and South Carolina) competition for the seventh time in the last eight years in November 2014. The win advanced the team to the District competition in Richmond where they competed against and defeated Virginia Commonwealth University and American University. With the District-level victory – and for the second time in the team’s history – the team qualified for the national competition.
On December 2, the team took on the best in the country at the Federal Reserve. While they did not win, they left a very positive impression with their knowledge and professionalism. (They were also able to size up the Federal Reserve Board as a potential future employer, and came back very positively impressed.)
This year’s competition almost didn’t happen. The Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond announced last year that it was discontinuing its sponsorship of the first round of competition. Thanks to the efforts of Dr. Aguilar and some of his student volunteers, the Economics Department pulled together the resources, including finding 3 sanctioned judges, to host the first round of competition for our region.
Carolina’s Fed Challenge captain and senior economics major, Carter Bryson, recently told U.S. News and World Report that the program’s been one of the most “helpful and influential” parts of his college experience. “It shows that you’re committed to learning outside the classroom and it [also] gives you a better understanding of what goes on in the business world and the finance world,” Bryson says. “When you’re applying for those jobs, you kind of have a better sense of what your goals are and what you might be looking for.”
The Fed Challenge is a tremendous learning experience for our undergraduates. The five-member team benefits, certainly, but they are vetted and supported by a group of ten other, younger students who compete to step onto the competitive team in future years. All of these students are learning lessons not only about macroeconomics but also about working in teams and presenting ideas effectively. We are grateful to Herbert Brown Mayo for the creation of the H. Brown Mayo Undergraduate Research Fund that helps defray the costs of team competitions. We’re also grateful to Dr. Mike Aguilar for his tireless work with our Challenge Team.
In the picture above:
- Back row pictured from left to right: Dean Murphy, Dashiell Mace, James Williams, George Simpson and Brian Hong Bartholomew.
- Front row pictured from left to right: Carter Bryson and Wilson Parker.