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Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas Essay Contest

posted Feb 8, 2010, 11:01 AM by Michelle Kretzschmar

Essay Topic
Economics Outside the Box

Students often think economics is crammed inside a box that looks like a textbook. The 2010 Economic Essay Contest challenges you to jump out of the box and find economics in the world around you. The lessons that economics teach can be found almost anywhere.

Maybe you read a news story or heard a report on television. Many current events have an economic angle. Perhaps you read a novel, saw a movie or heard a song. Characters are often challenged by limited resources and faced with difficult decisions with significant opportunity costs.  You might consider sports. How do incentives challenge professional and amateur athletes? Think about an entrepreneur. What resources are required for a new business?

The Task
Choose a narrative that illustrates an economic lesson. Remember that the narrative can come from any source, but you must describe it for a reader who is unfamiliar with the story.

Identify the economic lesson or lessons that are present in your narrative. Give a thorough explanation of the economic concepts. A list of possibilities appears below, but you are by no means limited by them.

  • Supply and demand
  • Scarcity
  • Incentives
  • Markets (mature and expanding)
  • Choice and opportunity cost
  • Moral hazard and asymmetric information
  • Government regulation
  • Comparative and absolute advantage
  • Marginal utility
  • Economies of scale
  • Technology
  • Profit maximization
  • Diminishing returns
  • Coordination and cooperation (the prisoner’s dilemma)

The Details
The contest is open to 11th and 12th grade students attending schools in the Eleventh Federal Reserve District, which covers Texas, northern Louisiana and southern New Mexico. Participants submit essays to the appropriate office of the Dallas Fed, as determined by the location of their school. To determine the appropriate office, visit the Dallas Fed web site at and click on Economic Education, 2010 Economic Essay Contest. To determine the appropriate office, see the Eleventh District counties.

Essays may be submitted now through February 26, 2010. Essay must be accompanied by student entry form (coming soon).

Ten essays will be selected for recognition from each office. The selected students, their parents and their supervising teachers will be invited to an awards ceremony at the office where they entered:

March 23  

San Antonio

March 30


El Paso

March 30



March 31



The top three finalists from each of the four office locations will be invited to an awards luncheon at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas on April 22. Each of the 12 finalists will receive a savings bond:

First place  

$1,000 Series EE savings bond

Second place


$500 Series EE savings bond

Third place


$250 Series EE savings bond

Remaining finalists


$100 Series EE savings bond

The supervising teacher and parents or guardians of each finalist will be invited to attend the awards luncheon. Guests will have an opportunity to tour the Bank during their visit.

For attendees from outside the Dallas–Fort Worth area, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas will cover travel expenses (automobile mileage or round-trip airfare, if distance requires) for the student, the supervising teacher and one parent or guardian.

Note: All parents or guardians are welcome to attend the luncheon, but the travel expenses of only one per student will be covered.

The Rules

1. The deadline for entry is February 26. Essays must be postmarked on or before that date.
2. The student entry form (photocopies are acceptable) with signatures of the student, a parent or guardian and the supervising teacher must accompany the essay.
3. Each student may submit only one essay.
4. Essays must be in 12-point type and limited to five double-spaced, one-sided, numbered pages with one-inch margins.
5. Each essay must have a separate title page listing these items:
  • Essay title
  • Student’s name
  • Student’s e-mail
  • Home address (include city, state and ZIP)
  • Home telephone number
  • Supervising teacher’s name
  • Teacher’s e-mail
  • School's name and address (include city, state and ZIP)
  • School’s telephone number
  • Total number of pages submitted
6. The title of the essay, but not the author’s name, should appear at the top of the first page of text.
7. A reference page should be included after the last page of text. All sources must be properly acknowledged and correctly noted in the essay.
8. The entrant must submit two copies of the essay. Essays will not be returned to the author.
9. Essays that do not conform to contest rules and regulations will not be submitted for judging and will not be returned to the author.
10. Family members of Federal Reserve Bank employees are not eligible to participate.

Qualified Federal Reserve staff will judge the essays according to five criteria:

1. Comprehension – How well does the essay reflect a thorough understanding of the topic?
2. Conclusions – Do the conclusions follow logically from the argument? Are the conclusions compelling?
3. Creativity – Were diverse resources and original ideas used to develop the topic?
4. Organization – Does the argument follow a logical and easily understood progression? Does the evidence support the essay's main points?
5. Writing – Were correct grammar, spelling and punctuation as well as concise language used?

Student Entry Form (coming soon)
Please refer to the list of Eleventh District counties to determine which Dallas Fed regional contest you should enter. You can find listings for each office: Dallas, Houston, El Paso and San Antonio.

Print out and complete the student entry form. Then mail the entry to the appropriate address:

Princeton Williams
Senior Economic Education Specialist
Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
2200 N. Pearl St.
Dallas, TX 75201-2272
(214) 922-6826

El Paso:
Lupe Mares-Edens
Public Affairs Manager
Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
El Paso Branch
301 East Main St.
El Paso, TX 79901-1326
(915) 521-5248

Robbie Moses
Economic Education Coordinator
Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
Houston Branch
1801 Allen Parkway
Houston, TX 77019
(713) 483-3637

San Antonio:
Rachel Peña
Senior Public Affairs Representative
Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas
San Antonio Branch
126 East Nueva St.
San Antonio, TX 78204-1020
(210) 978-1663