October 16, 2013 | Borough of Manhattan Community College
BMCC students are flexing their understanding of economics in a prestigious annual competition, the College Fed Challenge.
“Each student team needs to present four aspects: economic outlook, forecast, risks, and recommendations for policy,” explains Adrián Franco, Program Director for Economic Education at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. “They prepare for months, studying macroeconomics and monetary policy.”
BMCC hosts Fed Challenge orientation
The College Fed Challenge begins with an orientation, which was just hosted for the first time, by BMCC.
Suri Duitch, University Dean for Continuing Education, CUNY, welcomed the audience in Theatre I, and speakers outlined what is expected of the competing teams: To provide views on the state of the economy, to discuss risks to the economic forecast, and to suggest possible changes in economic policy.
“I also think it’s a fun opportunity for teams from colleges and universities across the Federal Reserve’s Second District to come together outside the classroom to focus on learning about the economy,” says Nora Fitzpatrick, Chief of Staff, Communications, Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The teams, she explains, are from schools in New York State, Northern New Jersey and Connecticut, and professors who lead students in the Challenge become part of a network of educators focused on economics.
Students, meanwhile, become part of a network of future economic leaders and scholars.
The recent Fed Challenge orientation, says BMCC business major Qinzeng Zheng, “was a rare chance to hear the insight of executives and economists from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Also, the orientation gave us new ideas in how to measure the current economy, and provided useful statistics. It will absolutely help us as we do our research for the upcoming Fed Challenge Competition, and broaden our observations about economy.”
A focus on process, not outcome
On November 5, the 34 college teams from District 2—one of 12 Federal Reserve Districts—will enter their first round of the College Fed Challenge, to be held at John Jay College.
“They present for about 10 minutes, to a panel of two judges,” says Adrián Franco,. “One or both of the judges are from the Federal Reserve, and one can be a professor.”
The semi-final and final rounds will be held November 18, at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, in Lower Manhattan, and winners will go on to compete in the national competition.
“The most important aspect is the process, not the outcome,” says Franco, “and for students to become familiar with the aspects and complexities of economic policy,” including factors such as unemployment, inflation, and monetary policy.
Financial access and the American Dream
Franco himself credits an extra-curricular project for changing his life’s course.
“I never studied economics till after college,” he says, when he participated in a summer program at Harvard Business School, “and just fell in love with the subject.”
Eventually Franco, who is from Mexico City, moved to Morningside Heights, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
“I was interested in the immigrant community, and taught computer skills and ESOL [English to Speakers of Other Languages],” he says. “I wanted to help them become part of the American dream.”
New immigrants, he points out, are likely to use check-cashing centers, and be drawn unwittingly into credit card debt.
Franco has also served as a consultant for the NYC Departments of Education and Consumer Affairs, and instituted initiatives to improve the educational attainment and financial access of the Latino community in New York.
Today, his focus on helping people become informed participants of the economy, extends to his work at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York directing the College Fed Challenge as well as the High School Fed Challenge.
“It’s part of the mission of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to educate the public about what we do,” he says.