Imagine giving a presentation on the current state of the U.S. economy to a group of economists and staff members from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
That’s exactly what a group of 10 SUNY Cortland students did on Oct. 31 as part of the College Fed Challenge, a competition that pits universities against one another in a battle of the brains. SUNY Cortland advanced out of the preliminary round — from an original pool of 43 colleges — and is one of 12 remaining teams in the semifinal round. The team competes again in New York City on Tuesday, Nov. 14.
The 10 students on the team are senior Brittany Fialkowski, juniors Nicholas Andreassi, Brian Drake, Ray Ganley, Mark Genovese, Mike Graveline, Matthew Scotellaro and Nicholas Turdo and sophomores Artie Haase and John Rizzo. All are business economics majors, except for Scotellaro, an economics major, and Turdo, a dual economics and adolescence education: social studies major. The group is enrolled in a special topics course this semester in which it has prepared its presentation.
“They have to pull their knowledge from many different classes,” said Associate Professor of Economics Flavia Dantas. “They have to make a broad assessment of the economy. So it’s not just monetary theories specifically but they have to answer, ‘What is the health of the U.S. economy?’ They have to look at financial markets, labor markets, GDP, wages and prices.”
The students have benefited from the Bloomberg Terminals the College installed in 2016 thanks to a gift from Charles J. Bocklet, Jr. ’58, a former New York Stock Exchange vice chairman. The terminals receive real-time market updates from the New York City-based firm and that inside information gives SUNY Cortland students an edge over the competition on how to shape their presentation.
Dantas led the College to first compete in the Fed Challenge in the fall of 2013 as an extracurricular activity for interested students. The special topics course was created in 2016.
This is the first time a SUNY Cortland team has advanced to the semifinals.
The New York College Fed Challenge is open to colleges in the Federal Reserve’s Second District and is split into two divisions, Liberty Street and Maiden Lane. Liberty Street, the division in which SUNY Cortland competes, is for students who have taken at least one 200-level or higher course in economics and Maiden Lane is for students who have only taken 100-level courses.
Of the nine colleges remaining in the Liberty Street division, two will advance to the final round to also be held on Nov. 14. Unlike the preliminary round and semifinals, which are based on student presentations, the final round consists purely of questions from Federal Reserve economists and staff members. The winning team advances to the National College Fed Challenge to be held Dec. 1 in Washington, D.C.
Dantas said the SUNY Cortland team was lauded by the judges in the preliminary round performance for its teamwork and analysis.