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Winning Plan for Growth

Undergraduates win competition again for their take on improving the economy

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November 28, 2012 | by Emily Osborne
(L to R) David Chen, Jonathan Cohen, Eric Zhang, Geoffrey Bery, advisor Mark Witte, Nikhil Byanna and judges Krishna Guha, Elizabeth Duke and Robert Barsky. 

EVANSTON, Ill. --- A Northwestern University team of undergraduates once again won the College Fed Challenge Nov. 27 for its take on improving the economy and formulating monetary policy.

The team beat four other college teams who were the champions of their Federal Reserve Regions, giving Northwestern its fourth win in the annual Fed Challenge.

Inspired by the working of the Federal Open Market Committee, the Fed Challenge encourages students to learn more about the U.S. macro economy, the Federal Reserve System and the implementation of monetary policy and financial stability.

During the finals, the five teams gave 15-minute presentations and answered questions from a panel of judges. They were judged on economic analysis, responses to questions, teamwork and presentation.

“We have great students who are competitive and like what they do,” said Mark Witte, team faculty advisor and distinguished senior lecturer in economics at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. “They formulated excellent monetary policy and once again demonstrated a thorough understanding of global economic conditions.” 

In the College Fed Challenge, Northwestern’s team of five undergraduates beat the other teams that won district competitions across the country, Bentley University, American University, Lafayette College and Pace University.  

The Northwestern team represented the Chicago Federal Reserve at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in the district competition, beating teams from 20 universities, including University of Chicago, University of Michigan and Notre Dame.

Northwestern team members are:

• Geoffrey Bery, from Deerfield, Illinois, is a Weinberg senior majoring in economics and mathematical methods in the social sciences. He is also in the Kellogg Certificate Program for Undergraduates in Financial Economics.

• David Chen, from East Brunswick, NJ, is a Weinberg senior majoring in economics and mathematics. He is also in the Kellogg Certificate Program for Undergraduates in Financial Economics.

• Eric Zhang, from Guangzhou, China, is a Weinberg senior majoring in economics, mathematics, mathematical methods in the social sciences, and a minor in French. He is also in the Kellogg Certificate Program for Undergraduates in Financial Economics.  

• Nikhil Byanna, from Schaumburg, Illinois, is a McCormick sophomore majoring in industrial engineering, economics, and mathematical methods in the social sciences.

• Jonathan Cohen, from Croton on Hudson, New York, is a sophomore majoring in economics and mathematical methods in the social sciences.

Judges for the finals this year were Elizabeth A. Duke, Federal Reserve Board Member, Krishna Guha, executive vice president of communications, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and Robert Barsky, senior economist and research adviser, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

The team’s presentation and data were prepared with the help of research assistants Garrett Peterson, Ian Jang, Jan Jaro, Sameer Datla and Yuxuan Chen.