Students Finish in Fed Challenge Top 12


Ryan Deuel

St. Lawrence University’s Fed Challenge team, for its second time, advanced to the semifinal round of the competition held in November 2017 at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. This year, 43 teams competed in the preliminary rounds, and only 12 teams advanced to the semi-finals. 

The College Fed Challenge is a competition hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank and is designed to bring real-world economics into the classroom. Teams are judged on their analysis of economic conditions and their policy recommendations. Leading up to the competition, New York Fed staff also host orientations and a half-day boot camp for students. 

Out of the 12 students enrolled in Professor of Economics Cynthia Bansak’s Fed Challenge course, five went on to compete in New York City: Zane Belden ’18 of Queensbury, New York; Michael Zunkeler ’18 of Baltimore, Maryland; James Schibli ’18 of Ridgefield, Connecticut; John (Jack) Martin ’18 of Syracuse, New York; and, Garnet Remillard ’20 also of Syracuse. 

“This is not about the competition, about who wins,” says Cynthia Bansak, professor of economics. “We have looked at course evaluations over the years, and there is no question students believe that this kind of cooperative learning is more effective than traditional classroom learning. And we continue to hear from former students that this course had significant long-term impacts on their careers.”

Lynn Smith Fox, spouse of President William L. Fox ’75, who also served as a senior official of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, helped prepare the students in partnership with several St. Lawrence alumni working in finance. Students were able to practice their presentations with six different alumni groups at six financial institutions and receive feedback on their oral presentation skills and their understanding of monetary policy.

“We spend time creating a 15-minute policy proposal, advising the Federal Reserve on current economic conditions and where we believe the target federal funds rate should be,” Zane says. “After presenting, we participated in a 15-minute question and answer session based on our proposal.”

This was only the second time they have made it to the semi-final rounds since St. Lawrence began competing in the Fed Challenge. 

From left: Zane Belden '18, Michael Zunkeler '18, James Schibli '18, John (Jack) Martin '18, and Garnet Remillard '20.