Dartmouth competes in Fed Challenge

by JR Santo | 11/14/06 6:00am

Stunned by its soaring columns, Chelsea Jia '08 walked into the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston last Thursday to argue before Federal Reserve officials and macroeconomists that leaving interest rates unchanged would best suit the economy. Jiu was one of four members of Dartmouth's first team to compete in the annual College Fed Challenge.

Alongside Jia, Aindriu Colgan '08, David Short '09 and Anirudh Jangalapalli '09 presented evidence from various parts of the economy in a 20-minute presentation, followed by a 15-minute question-and-answer session. The competitors fielded a variety of questions, including whether or not the trade deficit should affect monetary policy.

In the first round, Dartmouth lost to Boston College, which went on to win the competition for the New England region and will represent New England in the national college competition in Washington, D.C.

"I was pretty nervous since I didn't know what to expect. But the questions that they asked were questions about the news that I thought were very easy," Jia said.

Economics professor Massimiliano DeSantis coached Dartmouth's team this year. He recruited students in his macroeconomics class who were interested in economics and current news topics, but welcomed any interested students.

"The economics department is very excited about this competition," he said.

In the past, Dartmouth has had trouble forming a team in time for the competition. Since the Fed Challenge usually takes place in mid-November, Dartmouth students have just seven weeks to prepare, unlike other competitors, whose academic years begin earlier.

Dartmouth, though, is not the only college to find competing difficult.

Of the 16 teams registered to compete in the Northeast, only nine teams actually showed, according to DeSantis.

"Although we didn't win, it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my Dartmouth career. It was the first time you were presenting anything in front of economists who did that for a career. These people have the power to change policy," Jia said.

As part of the learning process, students must interpret and question economic reports in the media. This incorporates real-world economics data into a study of macroeconomics.

"There is usually a disconnect between the real world and economics classes. This competition connects the two," Colgan said. "You are plugging [economic data] into the models that we learn in class."