Fed Challenge Team Earns Spot in National Semifinals | St. Lawrence University

Fed Challenge Team Earns Spot in National Semifinals

A group of St. Lawrence University students will compete in the National College Fed Challenge Q&A semifinals after finishing among the top three New York Regional Universities in the competition.

The College Fed Challenge is a competition designed to bring real-world economics into the classroom. Teams play the role of monetary policymakers by analyzing economic conditions and recommending a course for monetary policy. The University’s Fed Challenge team is one of 18 teams out of 65 advancing to the next stage, which will be held virtually in mid-November.

“I think the team’s success this year is a product of their immense dedication and the drive that they all have had to prepare and truly compete this year,” says Charles A. Dana Professor of Economics Cynthia Bansak, who has taught St. Lawrence’s Fed Challenge course for more than a decade. “We began preparing over the summer with bi-weekly virtual classes and all 16 students have devoted time and effort since then to learn the material and to develop a creative presentation steeped in references to current research in monetary policy. Their drive, preparation, and commitment to the team really shows in the quality of the final product, and definitely led to their success this year.”

This year’s Fed Challenge team includes team leader Kai-Sigurd Jensen ’21, Olivia Botting ’21, Emily Green ’21, Max Hagan ’22, Christopher Jeffrey ’21, Max Lautenberg ’21, Ross MacMahon ’21, Bryan McLennan ’22, Samuel McMillan ’21, Julia Mulhern ’21, Anders Newberg ’22, Hunter Rodrick ’21, Sam Sapnar ’21, Andrew Terhune ’22, Jeffrey Yaun ’21, and Zejian Zhou ’21.

Jensen, who notes that this is one of St. Lawrence’s largest teams to date, sees his role as team leader as the person who ensures everyone has a voice.

“The United States is arguably the world’s most advanced economy and the pandemic has only made it more complex. These factors made it a major undertaking to analyze the current state of the economy,” Jensen says. “Having a diverse set of views is one of the reasons we have been so successful this year. Each individual on the team has contributed a unique viewpoint, and empowering everyone to express those views has been central to our strategy.”

According to Jensen, several members of St. Lawrence’s top-ranked alumni network are also serving as mentors and industry experts for the team.

“St. Lawrence alumni have been key to our success the past few years but they have really rallied around us this year,” he says. “Our alumni have been with us helping fine-tune the main points, adding their expert views, and ensuring we are set up to succeed. The team has a tight-knit group of alumni and their support is where St. Lawrence really differentiates from other universities and Fed Challenge teams.”

Another key factor in the team’s success thus far has been the vast support system found in their in-person and virtual classrooms across campus. St. Lawrence’s entire economics department has helped the team prepare their presentation this fall, and the team has benefited greatly from the expertise of Assistant Professor of Economics Shuwei (Jolly) Zhang, Visiting Assistant Professor of Government Zenel Garcia, and Lynn Smith Fox, a former senior official of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and spouse of University President William L. Fox ’75.

The National College Fed Challenge Semifinal Q&A Round will be held virtually Nov. 9-13. Winners will be announced on Friday, Nov. 20.