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(Left to right) College sophomore Renan Muta, College sophomore Elizaveta Brover, College senior Justin Guo,  Wharton junior Catherine Wang, and College junior Aman Virdi. (Photo from Elizaveta Brover)


A team of Penn students won honorable mention in the national round of the College Fed Challenge, the second time that a Penn team advanced to the national round of the competition.

The College Fed Challenge is a team competition for undergraduates hosted by the Federal Reserve, where teams work to analyze current economic and financial conditions in the United States to create a monetary policy recommendation to the Fed.

The Penn team began preparing at the beginning of the semester, and was eventually narrowed down to five members: College sophomore Elizaveta Brover, College senior Justin Guo, College junior Aman Virdi, College sophomore Renan Muta, and Wharton junior Catherine Wang. The national round of the competition was held on Nov. 22 in Washington D.C.

The team worked together to create a monetary policy that would improve the overall state of the economy. They studied various aspects of the United States economy such as gross domestic product, unemployment, and manufacturing indexes.

For the regional round of the competition, the team had to create a 15-minute presentation and participate in a 15-minute round of questions from economic experts. In their presentation, Penn's team analyzed the current economic conditions, forecasted where economic trends will go in the future, evaluated possible economic risks, and recommended a monetary policy to address these factors. 

Brover said the team received feedback from a range of people during their preparation stage in order to better understand economics concepts and improve their presentation.

The team worked together to create a monetary policy that would improve the overall state of the economy. (Photo from Elizaveta Brover)

“We didn’t have an advisor that met with us every week. We mostly did it ourselves. If we had questions, we’d go to a variety of professors within the Economics Department,” Brover said.

Guo said the team found the challenge exciting because they could apply their economic knowledge to real-world situations.

“You kind of have to interpret the news, interpret how practitioners think about things," Guo said. "It’s a lot more hands-on and kind of outside of the traditional academic context of economics."

The Penn team triumphed in the Philadelphia regional round, besting Princeton University, Lehigh University, Lafayette University, Villanova University, The College of New Jersey, Gettysburg College, Scranton University, and Saint Francis University.

The second round was at the national level, featuring universities including as Harvard University, Pace University, University of Chicago, and Loyola University Maryland. In this round, the team had to present for five minutes and answer 25 minutes of questions. After this round, Penn won an honorable mention.

“At the end of the day, I feel like it was like another class because we learned a lot. We had to learn and look really deeply into the concepts for what is happening in the United States,” Virdi said.

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