Geneseo economics enthusiasts triumph in first round of College Fed Challenge

In light of the developments in the economy over the past six years, most cringe at the idea of trying to understand the forces at play. Geneseo's Fed Challenge team doesn't just try to conceptualize economics but also uses it as a toolbox to craft policy ideas. The College Fed Challenge is a “team competition for undergraduate college students inspired by the working of the Federal Open Market Committee,” according to the Federal Reserve of New York's website.

Team Geneseo is comprised of seniors Andrew Hessler, David Ceely, Noah Seifert, Katrina Steinley and Tyler DeRubio, and advised by assistant professor of economics Léonie Stone.

Each team plays the role of the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee, a body that meets frequently to create policy to mediate current issues in the American economy - it's kind of like mock trial, but for economics nerds. In recent years, the semiautonomous group has been working to aim efforts at speeding up the pace of recovery after the 2007-2009 recession.

Hessler has been involved with Geneseo's Fed Challenge team since his freshman year.

“This year we are definitely at an advantage because some of the team members have been involved in the club in the past, so generally we are all on the same level of understanding,” he said.

The team as a whole has been preparing since August. Team members work on the competition both together and individually. Hessler said he has been “personally working on it for two or three hours a day.”

The Challenge is almost “like an extra class” due to the amount of work they are putting into it, according to Hessler.

The competition is split up into two parts: a 15-minute oral presentation and a 15-minute question-and-answer session, both in front of a panel of judges. The presentation “is about the economy, the state of the economy, the direction of Fed policy and where you think Fed policy should be going,” Hessler said.

The question-and-answer session is when the judges will differentiate the teams.

“A lot of the teams are going to have similar presentations because we all analyze the economy pretty much the same way,” he said.

The question-and-answer portion shows their teamwork.

“You need to have multiple team members answer questions and need to know what the other person is going to say,” Hessler said.

The team won at John Jay College in New York on Nov. 5 against teams including New York University, West Point, Ithaca College and Hamilton College. The group will proceed to the next round at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. If the group advances, it will attend the third round at the Federal Reserve Bank in Washington, D.C.