BW students with Fed Chair Janet Yellen at the NABE conference in Cleveland

The Westfield Group gave BW students a chance to join prominent economists at a keynote by the powerful head of U.S. banking.

Students witness major economic policy address by Fed Chair Janet Yellen

September 28, 2017

BW students with Fed Chair Janet Yellen at the NABE conference in Cleveland

For students of economics, the Chair of the U.S. Federal Reserve System is a rock star.

So, when Fed Chair Janet Yellen, who heads up the U.S. central banking system and wields enormous power over the economy, scheduled a policy address in Cleveland, BW jumped at a generous invitation from Westfield Group to give four students a seat in the room.

Major policy address and unrivaled networking

Business media touted Yellen’s appearance at the 2017 National Association for Business Economics (NABE) annual meeting as "a major policy address" on employment and inflation.

NABE bills itself as "the premier professional association for business economists and others who use economics in the workplace," offering "unrivaled networking opportunities."

Fueling career fire

For economics and political science major Michael Rivera '18 of Oakland, California, "being able to be in that environment surrounded by successful people fueled my fire to one day be there through my own accord."

Rivera found the remarks by Yellen, who later posed for photos with the students, both "awe inspiring because she seemed like the information was flowing naturally through her" and accessible. "Her answers were honest and she didn’t seem to hide anything which made her very relatable."

Textbook versus real world

Economics and mathematics major Corrinne Horvath '19 of Rocky River, Ohio said the address reinforced ideas presented in her BW coursework and, at the same time, demonstrated the challenges of economic forecasting. "It provided a very realistic view of how the economy does not function as a textbook example, as influences cannot be perfectly predicted and are always changing."

In addition to Rivera and Horvath, BW students who attended Yellen’s NABE keynote included economics and political science major Dominic Francis Laurie '19 and economics and international business major Pranav Rajouria '18.

Listening for clues

Economics chair Kay Strong, Ph.D. called the event "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our undergrad majors" with all four students characterizing the speech as "high-level but clearly understandable."

Strong’s takeaway, as an economist: "Yellen admitted that the FED may be overestimating the strength of the labor market, a clue to possible changes lying ahead."