The College Federal Reserve Challenge of the Federal Reserve System is a yearly academic competition involving intense teamwork, research, fiscal understanding and the willingness to expand one’s knowledge of America’s financial situation. A team of three to five CNU juniors and seniors focuses on monetary policy and strategy, explaining how the Federal Reserve will affect the unemployment, inflation and growth rates.
Team members present their findings at the Richmond Federal Reserve Bank, competing against other colleges and universities, hoping to eventually compete at the national level. Past participant Jeremy Bourne (’12) notes, “It brought into perspective the impact the central banking system had on the economy. Moreover, it equipped me with knowledge on how the Federal Reserve impacts the national economy.”

Dr. Robert Winder, Professor of Economics and Finance, trains his team by having them read more than 100 articles on current monetary policies. During the competition, teams have 20 minutes to give an oral presentation, analyzing the current economic conditions for a panel of judges and providing solutions to resolve economic troubles. Judges then engage students in a 10-minute “question and answer” session, followed by 10 minutes of student feedback. CNU won the state and regional competition in 2007, advancing to the national final four with Harvard, Northwestern and SUNY-NY.

Another past participant, Meghan McBride (’12) is familiar with the process of becoming a well-versed competitor. She says, “Most of our Fed Challenge meetings consisted of dissecting news articles and reports, like the beige book [an annual report summarizing current economic conditions], to understand the relative improvement of each economic sector and predict how this information would influence the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). From this experience I was able to learn how to interpret headlines and infer the implications they may have on the overall economy, the FOMC’s decisions as well as the markets.” 

Any CNU student – regardless of major – can serve on the College Fed Challenge Team. “My biggest takeaways from the Fed Challenge experience were first, the newfound appreciation I have for the Federal Reserve System in the states, as well as an ability to independently interpret decisions made by administration and determine how they could impact our economy, even on a local level,” McBride says. “This experience gave me more respect for the work the FOMC does, as well as our banking system in the United States.”

~ Adrian Howard ('15)