Wanted: Western Australia’s next top economics forecaster

March 26, 2018

Money tree graphic

Money tree: High school pupils can win a cash prize for their economic forecasts

High school students will get the chance to pit their wits against the West Australian’s economics editor Shane Wright thanks to an online forecasting competition organised by Murdoch University and the Economics Teachers' Association of WA.

The 2018 Economic Indicators Competition is the first of its kind in Western Australia, and entrants could win up to $1,000 for accurately predicting the future of the national economy.

Students from years 10 to 12 will be asked to make 15 forecasts including unemployment and inflation rates, the price of Bitcoin and the rate of economic growth.

A panel of expert judges, including Murdoch University academics from the School of Business and Governance, will calculate the overall winners against the figures released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Reserve Bank of Australia. Winners will be announced in August.

The deadline for entries, which can be done online, is 9am on Monday 16 April.

Associate lecturer Loretta Dumas, who is helping to organise the competition, said she expected pupils studying business, economics, accounting and mathematics would be particularly interested in taking part, although the competition is open to all.

“As we know, economic forecasting is fraught with challenges and uncertainties. Most economists failed to anticipate the Global Financial Crisis for example, so it is not an exact science,” she said.

“There are so many variables that can affect economic forecasts including changes in domestic and global events, so we would urge students to thinkoutside the box’ with their predictions and not just follow the trends.”

Shane has already made his predictions for the competition and is looking forward to finding out how he ranks alongside the students.

His tips for entrants includes doing plenty of research.

“Successfully making a prediction means not just seeing the latest figures but trying to understand what else is at play,” Shane said.

“Think inflation is just going to go up and up and up? Well, think about what technology is doing to the prices of everything from mobile phones to new surfboards.

“To make a good prediction, you have to read and think – and be prepared not to follow the pack!”

He also urged pupils outside the traditional economics and business topics to enter the competition, because of the importance of the economy to our everyday lives.

“Not being interested in economics means you’re missing out on the best way to buy stuff, enjoy your time and make sense of what your parents go on about,” he said.

“Economics really gives you an understanding of how other people make decisions – and make mistakes.”

The competition includes two categories: for year 10s and for year 11s and 12s. The first prize in each category is $1,000 and the second prize is $500. For more details and to enter, click here.

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