MC Makes FED Challenge Semi-Final

by C. Garrett Keidel & Alexa Schmidt

Staff Writers

On Oct. 31, a team of five presenters, two researcher analysts, and one faculty member from Manhattan College participated in the FED Challenge. They made it to the semifinals and presented the morning of Nov. 14 to a panel of three judges to try and make the finals, held in Washington, D.C. Although they didn’t make it to the finals, it was an unforgettable experience.

Students Diego Miguens, Zoe McGreevy and Veronica Cheng were three of the students at the challenge. Miguens is a junior and a global business major, McGreevy is also a junior and an economics major with a double minor in finance and Mandarin, and Cheng is a sophomore and an economics major. Other team members included Eric Scalone, Daniel Molina, Shaina Colombo and Sherry Zhang. Hany Guirguis, Ph.D, is their faculty advisor.

The FED challenge is, “a group of highly motivated students getting together to put together a presentation about the current state of the economy, and what our predictions would be going forward. We then present these at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York” McGreevy said.

“We act as policy makers to do a bunch of research on which policies should be implemented, what should change, and our future forecast and recommendations,” Miguens said.

Each team member has a specific responsibility. Miguens and McGreevy were two of the presenters, and Cheng was a researcher who collected raw data into graphs. The presenters prepare by anticipating what questions they will be asked, and have particular topics they are supposed to become knowledgeable in. Some of these topics include unconventional monetary policy, the Taylor Rule, the housing market and inflation.

“I was responsible for putting together the presentation and reading articles, learning a lot of things so that we can be prepared for any questions that may be asked at the actual presentation,” McGreevy said.

Preparing for the competition was very time consuming and took up a lot of hours during the weekdays, and even weekdays. It’s an all year round process that continuously builds, even after the competition ends.     

“I would say that a good estimate would be 50 hours of work a week. We would meet in the morning and at night, and then towards the competition we would meet on the weekends. Which would be a lot of hours on those days,” Miguens said.

“Close to the competition we would meet on the weekends for maybe 15 hours in total,” Cheng said.

The entire process is tedious. These students go enormous lengths to learn as much information as they can to do their best during the competition.

“I started in January doing research, and looking at the previous presentation from the team last year, using that as a base. From there, as we got current information, current research, we would add things in and take out outdated information. We also added in new parts that are more relevant to today’s economic situation. Basically doing research all year round because things change all the time in the economy,” Miguens said.

“It’s like everything builds off the work we’ve done before. I’ve been on the team since I was a freshman and I started reading articles, and putting things into the presentation for about two years now. So for me, it’s been just building on the starting point from freshman year,” McGreevy said.

In addition, Cheng would have to update the data monthly because the FED updated the data monthly, and they needed the data to be as accurate as possible.

At their meetings, practicing was crucial. Each person had their own topic of study, and taught the other team members about what they learned so that everyone would be able to answer a question about a specific topic.

“We took last year’s questions that were asked, and switched it up to try and mimic a current question that they might ask. That was one of the ways we prepared, but another was just to make sure everyone knew their own section well,” Miguens said.

At the actual competition, a bunch of different schools from the northeast area present to a panel of judges. The teams are not allowed to say which school they are from, and the judges cannot know either. The teams also get asked a series of questions and get scored based on a rubric. Nine out of 42 teams move on the semifinals.

The judging process itself is tough. There are a lot of different components that go into this competition that don’t solely have to do with economics and information. Other things, like people skills and teamwork factor in as well.

“They want to see how you and your teammates respond to the questions, and how you guys interact with one another during the presentation. So things like eye contact, to see how you flow from one part of the presentation to another, teamwork and chemistry. And then when they ask their questions, they want to see if you huddle a lot to see if you don’t really know or have an answer for the question. They mainly want to see if you know your information instead of just memorizing it, and to see how you work with your teammates. They don’t want to see a group of five kids from the business school that just got picked for the team and do not really know each other,” Miguens said.

Upon reflection, these students realize how much work actually went into preparing for the FED challenge.

“I was a part of the team last year. I was better able to balance school work and the FED challenge this year compared to last. But it still is difficult because it is a lot of hours and it is a very demanding project. But it is just as rewarding, so the benefits outweigh the costs,” McGreevy said.

“It’s more like staying up countless hours, waking up very early most of the first semester just to read a couple articles and discuss them which is tedious, but at the end of the day when it comes to the competition, you’ll look back and be able to understand things you read in the very first article. It pays off at the end. So if you want to put in a lot of hours per week and give up going out with your friends and having fun, then go ahead. You have to give something up to get something else. It’s a pick and choose, but worthwhile in the end,” Miguens said.

Each student took away something different from this experience. For Cheng, it’s analyzing data, for Miguens, it’s public speaking, and for McGreevy, it’s learning even more about economics. Overall, the competition taught them to strengthen their skills, like time management and working together as a team.

“I know we came across a lot of obstacles and we argued and that’s typical for a team. But we would always took a step back and instead of getting angry with each other we would see the pros and the cons to see who has the best idea, the best opinion. It taught me how to be more of a team player, not just being a one man show. So now if I’m working in my future job and my boss asks me to be a team player, I can look back on this experience,” Miguens said.

Although they didn’t make it to the finals, they still hold their heads high.

“Out of 42 competing teams and some of the best business programs on the east coast, making it to the semifinals with eight other teams was a very big accomplishment. I was putting my head down and a bunch of faculty came up to me and said congratulations for even making it that far,” Miguens said.

“I was on the team last year, and we didn’t make it to the semifinals. So this year knowing all the work we put into it and all the effort that was given by every member of the team and our faculty advisor, Dr. Guirguis, it’s a really good feeling to know you have something to show for all the work you’ve done. I would give more recognition to our faculty advisor because of the amount of work he puts into it to try and help us succeed by bringing us to our highest level of capacity. We really have bonded over the whole process, and he should be getting more recognition at the end of the day. While it is our team presenting, he’s the one that holds the team together and we’re all appreciative of that,” McGreevy said.

Editor’s Note: Daniel Molina is the Web Editor for The Quadrangle.