Rutgers Students Capture 1st Place in NY Regional Finals of College Fed Challenge, Advance to Finals in Washington, D.C. For Economics Students, Fed Challenge is “Brain Bowl 2009″

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(Newark, N.J.) — The College Fed Challenge team fielded by students from the Economics Department at Rutgers University in Newark has advanced to the national finals of the ninth annual College Fed Challenge.  The team will represent the New York Federal Reserve District at the national finals, to be held at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System in Washington , D.C. , on Wednesday Dec. 2. During the finals the Rutgers team will compete against teams from Harvard University, Northwestern University and Lafayette College. 

The five-member student team came in first place on Nov. 20 during the finals of the College Fed Challenge at the New York Federal Reserve, earning an engraved Golden Eagle Award. They bested teams from Pace University, the College of New Jersey and the State University of New York-Oneonta.

The Federal Reserve in D.C. will host the finals of the Challenge.

This marks the second time in four years that a team from Rutgers University, Newark, has won the New York competition and advanced to the national finals.  In order to advance to the New York finals, the team first won the preliminary round of its competition Nov. 5, competing against teams from Columbia, Cornell, Fairfield and St. Lawrence universities.  A total of 33 teams competed in the first round, with only six universities advancing to the Nov. 20 competition. 

The team is again coached by Economics Department Chair John Graham of South Orange, N.J. 

This year’s team members are:


  • Michael Martins, economics major, Class of 2010(BA/MA program), Peapack-Gladstone, N.J.;
  • Sharissa Barrow, mathematics and economics major, Class of 2010, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.,
  • Victor Casteneda, mathematics and economics major, Class of 2011, Elizabeth,  N.J.;
  • Diego LaFuente, economics major, Class of 2010, Belleville, N.J.;
  • Lakshya Aeri, finance and accounting major, Class of 2010, Jersey City, N.J.


This year’s competition is co-sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Eastern Economic Association. The top team in the national competition will share a $15,000 award from the Moody’s Foundation, while their school will receive a $10,000 prize. 

In each round of the competition, five members from each team act as if they are the monetary policy committee of the Federal Reserve, known as the Federal Open Market Committee, which makes the nation’s monetary decisions. Team members give a 20-minute presentation, including Power Point slides of economic and financial data, and then conclude each presentation with a monetary policy recommendation concerning the federal funds rate and the Fed’s other credit easing policies introduced after the financial crisis of 2008.

Finally the panel of judges questions each team for 15 minutes, grilling them not only on their presentation and policy recommendation, but also the team’s overall knowledge of macroeconomics, how the Federal Reserve operates, and the major monetary issues facing the Fed. Each team is then scored in several categories, including teamwork, knowledge, and presentation skills.