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February 19, 2010

Value of Opposing Views

By Cindy Ivanac-Lillig

I have just completed a series of workshops with teachers and students in which we dedicated part of the sessions to a "Hot Topic" debate. We read articles on issues such as inflation, too big to fail, the fed's independence, asset bubbles, etc. The goals of the exercise were to summarize the point of view of the article and then think about what the strongest opposing viewpoint would be. The exercise proved worthwhile as students struggled and thought about, for example, who would be in favor of asset bubbles and how knowing that can strengthen their own argument.

I recently listened to an interview Steve Forbes conducted with an economic forecaster, Brian Wesbury of First Trust Advisors. Wesbury basically argued that our economic recovery began with the relaxing of "mark-to-market" rules and not any type of stimulus or bank rescue. It is an interesting argument; however, I thought about my assignment to my students and then set out to find some opposing views. And I found one that happened to be from someone at the Boston Fed, where he argues that the "mark-to-market" rule was a small part of the problem banks had at the start of the crisis. Take a look below and let me know what you think.

Regardless of where you fall on an issue, your argument can be strengthened by keeping in mind the strongest opposing view. Good luck to my Fed Challenge teams.

Steve Forbes's interview with Wesbury
Excerpt of Sanders paper from Boston Fed on Bnet

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February 9, 2010

A Few Resources for Students Studying Macroeconomics

By Cindy Ivanac-Lillig

We are currently involved in two experiential programs for high school students called Euro Challenge and Fed Challenge. Both programs are academic competitions in which students do a good deal of independent work prior to coming to the Fed to present their analysis to seasoned economists. The programs are designed to be driven by current data and events. Students walk away learning a lot about some of the pressing economic issues of our day and --sometimes even without realizing it-- a lot about monetary policy.

This year many students have asked whether or not they need to be concerned about global economic events if they are competing in the Fed Challenge and my answer is yes! However, it is not always easy to find Fed-specific information on global economic issues, so I set out to find some material that I thought would be helpful. Please find a list below of some current resources that will hopefully provide a slightly different look at the Fed and monetary policy in a globalized world:

* San Francisco Fed President Janet Yellen on China's currency and global recovery; click here

* New York Fed's Linda Goldberg discusses whether or not the role of the US dollar is changing in a recent article; click here

* Minneapolis Fed's Arthur Rolnick Fed discusses the changes at the Fed as a result of more globalization; click here

* The Economist on what would happen if a Euro area country could not finance its debt; click here

* ECB past conference papers site (great resource when you have time to peruse); click here

* International Research Forum on Monetary Policy going on in DC at the end of March. Sponsored by both the Federal Reserve Board and the European Central Bank -- link

* Some quick global economic indicators courtesy of the NY Fed; click here

Please share your thoughts and recommendations for current resources below.

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