Fort Mill Times

Short story on economy nets cash prize for student

These days, the economy could stand to use a few super heroes.

Even the Federal Reserve Bank regional branches are encouraging high school students to create a few. Fort Mill High senior Daniel Koverman took up the challenge from the Charlotte branch and submitted a three-page short story featuring his creation, Captain Taxation. Koverman's story placed second out of 34 short fiction pieces to win a $300 savings bond.

The Federal Reserve Bank Federal Creative Expression Contest is held each year for high school students, according to Frank Leon, a spokesman for the Charlotte branch.

"The challenge this year was to create an economic super hero to solve an economic problem," Leon said. "The subject changes each year."

This year also marked the first time the contest included a separate comic strip competition in addition to the short story competition, Leon said. The bank received 34 written submissions and 10 comic submissions. First, second and third places were awarded in both competitions with $400, $300 and $200 savings bonds as prizes.

Koverman heard about the contest from Leon, who is Koverman's uncle. Leon did not judge the contest. However, Leon planted the seed for Koverman's creation when he told Koverman and his younger brother about the contest.

"He said the name 'Captain Taxation' as an example to my brother, [but] I ran with it," Koverman said.

The entries were judged on style, punctuation, grammar, creativity of the characters and the soundness of the economic principles expressed, Leon said. It was open to high school students throughout the Carolinas. Koverman's story was extremely complex in regards to the economics he included, so complex in fact, that judges had to call in an expert to check his work.

"He wrote a sentence that was so complex, it took a Ph. D. to figure out it was incorrect," Leon said. "Otherwise, he would have gotten first place. One sentence was worth $100 to him."

In the story, Captain Taxation uses Keynesian economic principles to convince Congress to raise taxes to normalize the economy when a robot with the Midas Touch gets out of control and drives down the value of currency. According to Koverman, the Keynesian model shows that when the government spends money, it decreases deflation and when it withholds spending, inflation decreases.

Despite the complexity of his writing, Koverman said he spent about 90 minutes working on the story and turned it in the last day entries were accepted.

"It's difficult for me to write when I'm not under pressure," he said. "Economic principals and theories make sense to me when they are explained faster than they do to most kids."

Koverman doesn't know yet where he will go to college, he still waiting to hear from Duke and MIT, his top two choices. Wherever he goes, he plans to study computer science and electrical engineering. He said he'll probably cash in the savings bond for school expenses next year when it matures to its face value.

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