Econometric Game 2019

Siza Toro & Luuk van der Smagt
15 april 2019

Team Melbourne University

Last Friday the finals took place at the Zuiderkerk after which every group gave a brief presentation of their model and findings at the University of Amsterdam. Thereafter all the teams had dinner and drinks in order to give the jury the time they needed to rank their reports. Eventually, everybody had to wait until eleven, tensions were rising all night long, and we were there to ask a few questions. We spoke to three teams before the results came in, and after that we spoke to the winner.

Team University College London
City London, England
Rank not in finals
Members Carl Gergs, Karolos Arapakis, Xia Yiming, Zhang Nianyi

How did the game go for you?
Well, we’re not really time series guys. This actually was our first encounter with time series, so it did not go too well. We did not make it to the final.

No time series guys, so how did you approach the problem?
Hmm. We started with Google actually, because we really didn’t know how to tackle the problem, but the internet at the church was not working in our advantage as well. So in the end, we were not able to produce something good enough, obviously.

The assignment was not working for you, but how did you experience the game as a whole?
At least it was not that stressful, since we knew we were never able to make it. It was nice. Today, we went on a boat trip. It was a bit crowded, 80 people on a small boat, but it was fun.


Team University of Amsterdam
City Amsterdam, Netherlands
Rank Top 10
Members Eva Janssens, Robert Verschuren, Rachid Saaliti, Radmir Leushuis

We heard you were confident. How come?
We believe in what we created. We just think our model is correctly specified and moreover, it was finished. During the presentations of the other groups we also saw some models with obvious mistakes. Also, we used methods that members of the jury have used themselves, so that might work in our advantage as well.
Was there a good vibe between the teams in general?
Well, basically only during the dinner there was interaction. It’s not that it was so competitive or anything, but during the assignment you’re just focused on your own team. It is so intense, especially when you make it to the finals. The losing teams had a free day today and went on a boat trip. I bet the vibe was pretty good there.
How did you guys experience the first night?
The first assignment lasted two days, so teams could work all night long. We actually reserved a room in the university library at the Singel, but we only spend two hours there. We also had to watch the Ajax game of course.
Did you have a lot of stress during the assignment?
During the day, it is not too bad. When there’s like four hours left, the end is coming closer and closer, and the last two hours are the worst. Some of us were literally shaking. On the first assignment we wrote down our last sentence only three minutes before the time was up.
Would you participate again next year?
Yes! Third time’s the charm. For me this was the second time, so next year I’m winning for sure. The game is a very intense experience, but when the subject is interesting it is also a lot of fun.


Team Aarhus University
City Aarhus, Denmark
Rank 3rd place.
Members Alexander Fischer, Jorge Hansen, Mathias Wagner Barløse, Nicolaj Mühlbach

Today was the final day. How did it go today?
We’re not that confident. The case was difficult and we only got nine hours, so we had to make some shortcuts. We do not know yet whether those shortcuts will be too much of a shortcut. But I think, in terms of the model we proposed, it is decent.

How did you guys experience the last three days?
I think it’s stressful, at least the first day, because then you continue working during the night. We only got three hours of sleep. We went to bed at 4am and woke up at 7am. But it also is fun. You learn a lot and you are constantly pushing yourself. Also teamwork is very important. I especially like to see how we have improved as a team over the last couple days. The first day was very chaotic, everybody was putting all sorts of results in the paper, so there was a lot of cleaning up to do. Today we worked very efficient and divided the work properly.

How did you guys make that division?
For the first case we did not make any division beforehand. When we first saw the case it turned out that two of us kind of knew what models we could use, so they automatically became modelers. The other two had to do the programming and type up the report. That also was a lot of work. We wrote over 50 pages in total. For the second case we continued on this same division since we knew it would build on the first case.

How was the experience in total?
Well, we arrived on Tuesday, so we had an extra day to explore the city. That was really cool. Also the game as a whole is just really fun, meeting all these people.

Would you do it again?



Team Melbourne University
City Melbourne, Australia
Rank 1st place
Members Alex Ballantyne, Paul Nguyen, Quoc Anh Nguyen, Tao Sun

First of all, congratulations on your victory! Can you explain the assignment in a few sentences?
Well, looking at forecasting atmospheric carbon concentrations using a global carbon budget equation, so looking at how human emissions add to carbon in the atmosphere, and also how biosphere, land, and ocean sink carbon out of it. We were asked to forecast regional contributions and then compare what the regional emissions needed to be in order to meet specific targets.

How did you approach the problem?
Our approach was just to really use this framework of the global carbon budget. Think about the different dynamics underlying there. It imposes a feedback mechanism such that concentrations and
sinks are related to each other. Try to put the pieces of the puzzle together. Find out how to capture all regional dynamics optimally, and then combine that into a system that makes sense. For us, it was not about using fancy econometric techniques, but more about being thorough.

How did you win?
From what I just heard from the judges, we were just very thorough. We actually were able to capture serial correlation in the ocean sink, which was not present in the land sink.

How did you experience the social aspect of the Econometric Game?
It was great fun! It was a lot more fun than I anticipated. At first I was just in for the free trip to Europe, which is fantastic of course. But then I also found the case very interesting to work on. It has been three amazing days, meeting people from all over the globe. Everybody was super friendly.

Are you joining next year as well?
Oh man, I’ll retire! I’ve got the perfect score, one from one. But we’ll definitely send some other students from Melbourne University.

Do you have any tips for students joining next year?
Oh, it was a fluke! I don’t have any tips. Just be thorough. Think carefully about it rather than just show of and do something fancy.