Dartmouth Team Wins the National Fed Challenge

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The Federal Reserve judges praised the undergraduates’ monetary-policy arguments.

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Members of the 2020 Fed Challenge team meet with their adviser, Senior Lecturer Elizabeth Curtis, center row, left, during preparations for nationals.
Members of the 2020 Fed Challenge team meet with their adviser, Senior Lecturer Elisabeth Curtis, center row, left, during preparations for nationals. (Photo by Elisabeth Curtis)
12/01/2020
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A team of Dartmouth undergraduates won the national College Fed Challenge on Nov. 20, arguing monetary policy, presenting economic analysis, and responding to questions before a panel of judges from the Federal Reserve.

Federal Reserve Board Chair Jerome Powell praised the Dartmouth team and the other competitors for demonstrating “exceptionally high levels of commitment, determination, and motivation” in the competition.

“I am hopeful that learning about how monetary policy fosters a strong economy might inspire further study and perhaps even future careers in the fields of economics and finance,” Powell said.

The Dartmouth team, which included Ayan Agarwal ’21, Tench Coxe ’21, Utsav Jalen ’21, Kira Koehler ’21, and Zach Olson ’21, won the regional competition, held virtually on Oct. 13 before the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, securing the team the chance to represent the Boston Federal Reserve District in the national finals.

Although only five students can present before the judges from the Federal Reserve, Dartmouth’s success was a result of the hard work and thorough analysis of all 12 undergraduate student participants, says Elisabeth Curtis, a senior lecturer in economics, who coaches the Fed Challenge team with co-adviser Frank Zarnowski, a visiting professor in economics. The other participants: Bill Cui ’21, Vitor Berganton de Souza ’21, Autumn Dinh ’21, Jimmy Nguyen ’21, Michael St. George ’21, Alice Zhang ’21, and Alina Zhang ’22.

“I was particularly impressed with the success of this year’s team in that they were able to create a team-like bond despite being physically apart. They worked decisively, enthusiastically, and cooperatively,” Curtis says.

Fed team presenter Kira Koehler, a varsity field hockey athlete who was only able to participate in the Fed Challenge this year because the pandemic interrupted her season, called it an incredible experience.

“As an athlete who lost my senior season to COVID, I am greatly appreciative to have had the opportunity to compete against 85 other schools in a national competition. Hearing Dartmouth announced as the winner was undoubtedly a highlight of my Dartmouth experience,” Koehler says.

The other national finalists were, in second place, St. Lawrence University, and in third place, Princeton University.

Beginning in the fall of 2010, the economics department has offered course credit every fall for students interested in participating in the Fed Challenge research and competition. Fed Challenge is open by permission from the class instructor to students who are or plan to be economics majors.

For the latest information on Dartmouth’s response to the pandemic visit the COVID-19 website.

William Platt can be reached at william.c.platt@dartmouth.edu.