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National financial leader speaks at NDSU


When Narayana Kocherlakota speaks, the business world listens. And on April 15, NDSU students had the uncommon opportunity to hear directly from the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.

Kocherlakota visited Fargo and the NDSU campus with the intent to gain a better understanding of the economic activities in North Dakota and the Fargo area. After meeting with community and business leaders, Kocherlakota gave a media briefing at Richard H. Barry Hall to discuss his observations. He said the state is strengthened by its oil production sector, agriculture and efforts to diversify the economy.

“In a one-word answer, I would say North Dakota’s economy is ‘healthy,’ ” Kocherlakota said, noting he was in Fargo to gather local information that will be forwarded to the Federal Open Market Committee, the policymaking arm of the Federal Reserve’s board of governors. 

“Your unemployment is low, less than 4 percent in this area. The local economy is very strong and healthy – people have a lot of confidence in it. That said, there are still some challenges,” he said, suggesting some businesses feel the uncertainties of the national economy, in addition to local housing issues.

Continuing his campus visit, Kocherlakota led a town hall forum at Barry Hall’s AgCountry Auditorium. About 150 students and people from the private sector attended his evening presentation. He offered this advice to students who are graduating in May and about to enter the marketplace.

“The long-haul (outlook) in the United States is a very positive one. The key to taking advantage of positive things over the economy’s long haul is not viewing this commencement as your last commencement. There is going to be more opportunity to get more education, and people should be availing themselves to that,” Kocherlakota said. “The key to being successful as the economy continues to evolve is going to be the willingness to keep oneself re-educated through relearning.”

Kocherlakota became president of the bank in 2009, after being a member of the Minneapolis Fed’s research staff and a research consultant. He previously was chair of the economics department at the University of Minnesota and a faculty member at Stanford University. He was named one of the “Top 100 Global Thinkers” by Foreign Policy magazine in 2012.

With his sweeping knowledge, Kocherlakota is clearly a source for students to query, his appearance a great chance to gain important insights.

“Finance is the cornerstone of the U.S. and global economy. Having the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis president here provides a wonderful opportunity for students to listen firsthand to a major financial leader, and ask questions that may guide their careers and aspirations,” said William Nganje, chair and professor of agribusiness and applied economics.

Students, like senior Kristi Schaffer, were clearly impressed with Kocherlakota’s ability to address a variety of questions on numerous topics. “It’s really important for students to listen to an individual who is in the mix of what’s going on with the economy,” said Schaffer, who is an agribusiness major from Brandon, Minn., and president of the NDSU Blue Key chapter. “We talked about unemployment, interest rates and the national debt. It was an amazing opportunity.”

Junior Mark Simonson, an economics major from Fargo, seemed to hang on every word. “I sat front and center,” he said. “I thought it was really important to hear what he had to say. It was something to really take to heart, because the Fed’s policies affect everyone in the country.”

Sophomore Clay Carufel, meantime, was curious to learn about Kocherlakota’s background and how he rose to his position. “That was important for me to hear and supplement my education. It will help me structure my path as I get older,” said the finance major from Bismarck, N.D. “His knowledge is extensive and I gained perspective. It was great.”

The Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank serves the Ninth Federal Reserve District, which includes Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, 26 counties in northwestern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

NDSU is recognized as one of the nation's top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.

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North Dakota State University
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