Demonstrating their understanding of the workings of the Federal Reserve, a team of Albion economics and management students recently won the Chicago District College Fed Challenge. The group now heads for the Fed Challenge national finals, November 29 in Washington, D.C., in which it will face the other regional finalists from Harvard University; Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey; Lafayette College; and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Albion, the only liberal arts college at the Chicago regional competition, beat 19 other schools, including the University of Michigan, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Marquette University, and Northwestern University, whose teams have won nationals several times in the past decade. The Albion team, which didn't return any members from last year's group that also reached the regional finals, includes students Michael Davis, Kurt Tech, Heather Waldron, Thomas Worden, John Rogers, Evan Malecke, and Andy Bieber.
Kotaro Yoshida, economics and management professor and team coach, attributed Albion's success to teamwork and exemplary preparation. "We spent hours and hours going through the script, one sentence after another," he said. "During the 15-minute Q&A, everyone contributed. On other teams, you got the impression that one kid was the go-to guy who handled most of the answers."
In addition, Albion followed a unique strategy which Yoshida said was appreciated by the judges. "The other teams proposed policies in terms of what the Fed should do in the current economic circumstances. By contrast, our strength was to come up with justifications and arguments for existing policy. We didn't simply endorse the current policy but carefully provided consistent and logical arguments for why the current policy makes sense."
Beyond the satisfaction of the regional win, "there was an enormous amount of academic value in competing," said Worden, the team's captain. "At the beginning, we were each focusing on a different aspect of the economy, but as time progresses, you begin to realize how every component of GDP and the economy affect the entire outlook. It gets to where every piece of data gives you a clearer picture of what's going on. What you learn in classes translates well into this competition, which gives you a real-life perspective for what you're learning."
Along with its success the last two years, Albion also won the state competition in 2005.