Some of the keenest economics and business studies students from UK secondary schools are in the final days of preparation for the area finals of the Bank of England and The Times Interest Rate Challenge. These follow on from the closely-contested regional heats held in November, which saw 271 teams - over 1,000 students - looking to win a place in one of the six area finals.
The first two of six area finals, to be held in Bristol and London on 11 February, will see 14 teams demonstrating their knowledge of the UK economy including, of course, an awareness of the Chancellor's 2.0% inflation target for the Bank.
Taking on the role of the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee, each team of four students has 17 minutes to argue the case for their interest rate decision, and whether any other monetary policy measures might be needed, to achieve the 2.0% inflation target. They then answer questions from a panel of three judges comprising of Bank staff. The students not only need to show their understanding of the real economy and monetary policy, but their presentation techniques and teamwork are also put to the test.
Bank of England Governor and Chairman of the Monetary Policy Committee, Mark Carney, said:
“I am delighted to announce the 2016 semi-final stage of the Bank’s sixteenth Target Two Point Zero challenge. It’s great to see so many young people engaged and enthused about the work of the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee, and its objective of promoting the good of the people through price stability. I’m impressed by the thirst for knowledge that the participants have demonstrated, and their understanding of the issues affecting our economy. I wish them all the best in the final rounds of the challenge.”
The enormous background effort by the students and their teachers does not go unrewarded: the six winning teams - which go on to the national final - each receive a trophy. The Bank of England in London is the venue for the exciting national final, to be held this year on 22 March, with the Challenge Trophy and a cheque for £5,000 at stake.