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Econ Students Cash in at Federal Reserve

By Vera Lin

Economics in action - Seniors (from left to right) Christine Song, May Hlaing, Avir Waxman, and Alex Cowen stand in front of the Federal Reserve Bank in New York City.
Economics in action – Seniors (from left to right) Christine Song, May Hlaing, Avir Waxman, and Alex Cowen stand in front of the Federal Reserve Bank in New York City. Reproduced by permission of Christine Song

On March 25, four of South’s AP Economics students went to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to participate in the annual Federal Reserve Challenge. After thorough research and hours spent putting together their presentation, the team, consisting of seniors Alex Cowen, May Hlaing, Christine Song and Avir Waxman, came home with a spot in the semi-final round.

During the competition, the team played the role of monetary policymakers as they presented economic data and suggested ways in which the economy could be improved to judges from the Federal Reserve. Their presentation was followed by a twenty-minute question and answer session where the team answered questions on the overall economy and their specific presentation.

“We felt that we had a solid presentation, and we were pretty confident because we rehearsed the night before,” said team member Christine Song. “The question and answer section was more nerve-wracking because we didn’t know what to expect. However, the judges were very nice and helpful, so it wasn’t a big issue.”

The process of developing a strong presentation required intensive research and analysis. Before constructing their presentation, the team needed to research current economic data and compare it to data from past years, while looking for economic trends.

“They had to take what they learned in class to the next level,” said economics teacher Mr. Dennis Mooney. “I taught them the fundamentals of economics, and now in the Fed Challenge they have to apply it.”

To work efficiently, the team members split up and researched different aspects of the economy. They met frequently in school to make sure everyone was keeping up with the research. Because economic data is constantly changing, the team could not do too much work in advance. However, as the competition neared, they gathered to construct their presentation and rehearse.

By participating in the Fed Challenge, the students got a better understanding of real world economics. “They get to see how difficult it is to monitor the economy,” said Mr. Mooney. “When doing research for the challenge, they see how different indicators may say different things about whether or not the economy is doing well. Because of this, they have to learn to balance out their research.”

The team’s hard work paid off as they became the first team from South since 2005 to advance to the semi-final round. “We weren’t really expecting it since we knew that we were up against very strong teams,” said Song. “When we found out, we were all shocked, but we also felt very accomplished and proud.”

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