NCAS Alumni Prepare Fed Challenge Team for Second Consecutive Year

The Rutgers-Newark Fed Challenge team, fresh off a 2nd-place finish at the national competition last year, has a new line-up that is eager to continue the winning legacy.

And just like last year, Rutgers-Newark alumni are stepping in to help prepare the team.

In late October, a week before the first round of the New York District competition, the team delivered a practice presentation to a panel of five alumni, all of whom work with major companies in the financial-services industry. The event was hosted in New York City by Keith Banks (NCAS ’77), president of U.S. Trust, Bank of America Private Wealth Management.

“Our alumni are giving their valuable time and expertise while playing a pivotal role for these students,” says Brian Agnew, Assistant Dean of Advancement and External Relations at Rutgers-Newark. “To see the intergenerational connections within NCAS is very inspiring.”

Supporting the Students

Assembled around the large doughnut-shaped table in the boardroom at U.S. Trust, the alumni heard the team’s presentation, complete with Powerpoint slides, before grilling the students on a variety of topics dealing with macroeconomics and Fed policy. The entire exercise lasted about an hour.

“This is an impressive group of students,” says Tmothy Lizura (NCAS ’90, RBS ’96), president and CEO of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority, who sat on the alumni panel. “They have clearly put significant time and thought into their presentation and Fed policy recommendations.”

Rutgers-Newark team members are undergraduates majoring in economics, finance, accounting and mathematics. Many of them are hand-picked from an intermediate macroeconomics class taught by Professor John Graham, chair of the Economics Department and coach of the Fed Challenge Team, who is on sabbatical this year.

Filling in for Graham is Sher Singh, one of the anchors of last year’s team who is now in his fifth year of a B.A./M.A. program in Economics and double-majoring in Math. This year’s team consists of seniors Michael Jen, Harrison Edelman, Andrew George, and Edson Cornejo and junior Adeel Ganju. Senior Benny Ng has also contributed by constructing Powerpoint slides for the team’s presentation.

Jen is the only veteran from last year’s team, though some of the members helped with research last year, when the team was edged out by Harvard. It was the third time in the last three years Rutgers-Newark’s team had gone to the nationals, and the fourth time in the last seven years, since the team’s inception in 2005.

The Fed Challenge

In the Fed Challenge, teams of three to five students give a 15-minute Powerpoint presentation analyzing current economic conditions, forecasting trends and offering monetary-policy recommendations for the Fed. Teams are then grilled for 15 minutes by a panel of judges about monetary policy and macroeconomic theory.

The team will battle more than 30 schools in the New York District competition to see if it will move on to the national finals. When they accomplished that feat in 2006, they went on to place third at the nationals, followed by second- and fourth-place finishes in 2009 and 2010.

“The future of NCAS, Rutgers-Newark and the State of New Jersey is in good hands given the breath of talent exhibited by these young scholars,” says Lizura. “These students should be proud of the efforts.  I expect that in the coming years, we will only build on this success.”