Leadership

These students might be the next Janet Yellen or Ben Bernanke

Investors looking for clues to whether the Federal Reserve will raise rates in June might want to tune in to the savvy group of high school students competing in this year's National Economics Challenge.

"If I was in charge of the Fed I think I would actually raise rates a little bit," said Carmel (Indiana) High School senior Joe Philleo. "I think 0.25 percent versus 0.5 percent won't make a huge difference, but I'd obviously need to consult more data."

National Economics Challenge team from Carmel, Indiana.
Source: Council for Economic Education
National Economics Challenge team from Carmel, Indiana.

Philleo is among eight students from Carmel High competing in the Council for Economic Education's competition. The students beat out more than 10,000 other high schoolers from across the country in oral and written competitions testing complex economic knowledge. On Monday in New York City, four teams in two divisions will compete for the prestigious title.

In addition to Carmel's two teams, the students are from Bellaire High School in Bellaire, Texas, Choate Rosemary Hall in Wallingford, Connecticut, Mounds View High School in Arden Hills, Minnesota, Lexington High School in Lexington, Massachusetts, Upper Dublin High School in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania, and West Windsor-Plainsboro High School North in Plainsboro, New Jersey.

"These are the best teams in the nation," Carmel High School economics teacher Michelle Foutz said. "So however we do we are proud of what we've accomplished, whether we're first or we're last."

Foutz has brought her economics teams to the national round in New York since 2001. She works with the students to practice analytical and real-world questions on topics including monetary and fiscal policy, market structures, production costs and economic theory.

"They're doing this all on their own," she said. "I guide them, but they're doing all of the work."

"At first I didn't really know anything about econ," said Carmel sophomore Karthik Ravichandran. "The more I studied it I realized it was based on decisionmaking, not just money, numbers and all that. So it's been really fun so far."


The competition features questions many professional economists face, such as how to measure the price of goods and services or the demand curve in a specific industry. The council is a nonprofit organization that promotes economic and financial literacy for students from kindergarten through high school. Foutz said the competition has inspired many of her students to pursue paths in economics or finance in college and beyond.

"Econ it's happening around you, going on every day," said Carmel senior Sam Miller. "Being able to decipher the whole thing that runs our society is kind of cool."