Australian Economics Olympiad

Mr Neal Townley reports on some outstanding performances by our representatives at this prestigious national economics competition.


It has been quite a journey for some budding Grammar economists over the last eight months, taking them from the humble HB2 classroom below Big School to the rarefied air of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s boardroom (hallowed ground indeed – we had to relinquish our phones and were accompanied by an armed guard!). It started in Term IV last year when twenty-five boys took a test to qualify as Grammar’s representatives in the Australian Economics Olympiad, a relatively new competition and one in which we were competing for the first time. From this group a ‘Magnificent Seven’ was selected: Sam Brew, Robert Davie, Will Dimopoulos, Manas Gupta, Caleb Kim, Max Lee and Jack Lockhart (all in Form VI). These boys then attended coaching sessions before school and at lunch and studied independently over the next three terms.

The national competition took place on two Saturdays in June. Round 1 was another grueling written test but, to their great credit, all seven boys qualified for the forty spots in the next and final round. This second component was a group presentation (teams of five randomly allocated) involving a cost/ benefit analysis of the many COVID-19 policy responses. Sam Brew and Will Dimopoulos impressed the judges with their knowledge and insight and consequently were selected in the Australian team of five; a fantastic achievement! The International Economics Olympiad was due to take place in St Petersburg but had to be cancelled for obvious reasons. However, the University of New South Wales stepped in to provide the team with various prizes and a visit to the Reserve Bank of Australia. This highlight took place in July and parts of the boys’ reflections are below.

Pictured: Will Dimopoulos (VI), Mr Neal Townley and Sam Brew (VI). Photo supplied by RBA.

Will Dimopoulos

“Far from the theoretical textbooks which characterise the educational approach to economics, we experienced a series of intriguing presentations which analysed the economic lessons which can be taken from the unprecedented last couple of years. However, these presentations also reminded us of an important lesson of economics: there is no finality in economic exploration.”

Sam Brew

“Having the privilege to speak with Australia’s greatest economists was truly wonderful, and an experience I shall cherish. As too were the presentations we witnessed, which have prompted me to think more deeply about all the topics discussed, along with the broader nature of economic modelling and its nuances.”

Pictured: The Economics Olympiad team and coaches with Will Dimopoulos (VI) (centre, left) and Sam Brew (VI) (centre, right)