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Students tackle current economic issues in annual business debate

Posted: Dec 11, 2015


Since 2012, Professor Steve Butler’s Financial Markets and Institutions class and Dr. Paul Koch’s Intermediate Macroeconomics class have taken opposing sides and engaged in a debate about a current economic issue. The 2015 topic was the independence of the Federal Reserve System in setting monetary policy for the economy of the United States.

Dan Mitchell enjoyed a recent glimpse of his future career: “I love economics, and I plan to work for the Federal Reserve. So preparing for the debate and participating in it was fun and educational for me,” said the economics and finance major from Homewood, Illinois.

Mitchell and his classmates recently squared off in this year’s annual economic debate for students in the School of Business at Olivet Nazarene University. Two student teams – one from the Financial Markets and Institutions class and one from Intermediate Macroeconomics – went head-to-head after researching a current economic topic and preparing their arguments. This year’s main topic: Should the independence of the U.S. Federal Reserve be restricted or enhanced?

Another point of contention was whether the Federal Reserve’s Board of Governors is truly independent in practice, given that members are appointed for 14-year terms but typically serve less than half of their terms before moving on to other positions.

Two faculty advisers oversaw the debate and the students’ preparation. Dr. Paul R. Koch, in his third decade as an Olivet professor of economics, is a noted scholar and researcher who serves on the faculty of the International Business Institute. Professor Steven Butler, executive-in-residence for the School of Business, served more than 30 years as a financial expert with the U.S. government. In his most recent government role, he was chief financial officer for the Food Nutrition Service in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where he oversaw the budget, accounting, grants and financial systems required to manage more than $100 billion.

For information about Olivet’s School of Business, contact the Office of Admissions at or 800-648-1463, or schedule a campus visit.