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Target or trap? Economist tells sixth-formers why the Government’s 2% inflation goal is too low

Old Elizabethan academic and economist Sandeep Mazumder queried the Bank of England’s 2% inflation target and suggested it should be higher – not because it is too cautious, but paradoxically because it is too risky.

Sandeep (OE 1993–2000), who is Dean of Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University, Texas, spoke to the group of Year 12 economists before yesterday’s news that the inflation rate had fallen to 2.3%.

Although this is its lowest level in almost three years, the figure was still higher than expected. Political commentators believe that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has called the early General Election on the strength of the apparently improving economic outlook.

Dean Sandeep, who has published widely on inflation dynamics and the Great Recession of 2007–2009, argued that inflation at 2% would limit the Government’s room for manoeuvre in cutting interest rates during times of economic difficulty, making it hard to escape a recession.

He argued instead for adopting a 3 or 4% target, which would give more flexibility with interest rate cuts, without the risk of inflation dropping to 0%. This is the level below which rates cannot be cut (the ‘zero lower bound’) without the potentially disastrous economic risk of people hoarding cash, rather than saving it in banks, the so-called ‘liquidity trap’.

Economics teacher Celia Wallace thanked Dean Sandeep, who spoke remotely to the School’s Gresham Society for Economics. He is a member of QE’s 450 Club member and has been very supportive of the Economics department.

“Sandeep introduced several new concepts to improve pupils’ depth of understanding, including the Fisher Equation to calculate real interest rates and the problem of the zero lower bound, which was the main basis of his talk.

“Within his critique of inflation targeting, Sandeep showed other policy options which countries can often consider, including price-level targeting – where a specific price index is targeted, rather than a growth rate.”

Afterwards, the sixth-formers asked a range of questions, including Avi Juneja’s cautious query about the issue of real wage cuts with a target of 3% or 4% inflation, and Abyan Shah asking about which method of targeting would be most effective for the UK: inflation targeting, price-level targeting, or average inflation targeting (a hybrid of both systems).

Sandeep gave plentiful career advice to all. He strongly expressed the need to follow one’s strengths and passions. He said he had chosen to go into academia and research as it was his passion, while also giving more of a life balance compared to other options, such as  banking.


Meeting a Nobel prizewinner

Year 12 economists seized the chance to meet Nobel laureate Claudia Goldin – only a short time after writing an essay about her work.

Hers was one of three lectures given by Nobel prize-winning economists at the LSE within the space of just one week. The sixth-formers attended of their own volition.

Economics teacher Celia Wallace said: “Claudia Goldin’s work on women in the workplace over the centuries has been hugely important, and the boys have enjoyed learning about it.

“I know it was a real thrill for them to be able to hear her lecture, ask her questions and then meet her. They also enjoyed hearing from her fellow Nobel laureate, Esther Duflo, on the same evening, while two of the group attended a lecture by yet another Nobel prizewinner, Joseph Stiglitz, earlier in the week.”

Claudia Goldin, who won her Economic Sciences Nobel prize in October 2023, delivered a lecture entitled Why women won.

Looking particularly at how women’s rights have evolved in the US, she explained how discrimination actually increased during the early decades of the 20th century, as legislation protecting women from certain hazards in the workplace led to women being seen as inferior to men. With women expected to focus on family life, regulation increased, preventing them from working longer hours and earning more pay, and also denying them jo bs, with posts instead reserved for men.

The turning point came in the 1960s and early 1970s, she said. The Civil Rights Movement catalysed protests and a female push for power, leading to legislative change.

One of the boys, Dheeraj Karnati, then put to her a key question that was also in the minds of his fellow QE economists: what was the reaction to the new laws, and how did society feel about women having an equal role with men in the workplace? In response, she noted that many traditionally minded women were against the changes, even more so than men, and openly opposed the women’s movement.

Meeting Claudia Goldin was a real highlight for Shrey Tater, who described her talk as “a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear a Nobel prizewinner speak – particularly one who is, like Esther Duflo, a woman breaking down barriers in Economics”.

Esther Duflo’s lecture, the second of the evening, focused again on inequality, this time looking at the climate. The 2019 joint Economic Sciences Nobel prizewinner spoke about inequality between emitters, quoting French economist Lucas Chancel’s finding that 10% of the highest polluters worldwide are responsible for 50% of global emissions. Poorer countries also tend to be unequally affected by climate change as they are mostly in warmer places.

When highlighting the ‘mortality cost’ of global environmental damage – amounting to $518 billion in poor countries – she emphasised the necessity of the world committing to mechanisms to cover this sum. Such mechanisms included increasing the existing 15% tax on multinational corporations and an international wealth tax of 2% levied on the 3,000 richest people in the world.

In addition to Dheeraj and Shrey, those attending the lectures included Sushant Aryal, Zain Farooqi, Abyan Shah, Andreas Angelopolous, Vaibhav Gaddi and Rohan Varia.

Vaibhav and Rohan also attended the lecture by Joseph Stiglitz, winner of the 2001 Economic Sciences Nobel Prize and a former World Bank chief economist. Afterwards, they stressed how important it was for them to hear experts in the field speak and thus to develop their knowledge of Economics and the world around them.


Gig economy a recipe for growth? Sixth-former’s essay wins international competition

Year 12 pupil Avi Juneja’s essay not only topped the Economics section of a university-run competition but was the overall winner out of more than 5,000 entries.

Avi took first place, with £1,000 in prize money, in the Northeastern University London essay competition for his look at the gig economy. He was presented with his prize during the university’s commemoration day celebrations.

The competition, open to students in Year 12 or the international equivalent, required entrants to pen 1,500 words answering questions set for ten fields, ranging from Computer & Data Science to History. Avi’s essay tackled the question Does the expanding gig economy contribute positively to sustainable economic growth?

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “My hearty congratulations go to Avi. The rise of the gig economy has in a short space of time introduced significant change in our society: Avi’s essay does an excellent job of exploring its effects, good and bad, and of interrogating the claims made for it by its proponents.”

Avi, who wants to apply to Cambridge to read Economics next year, said he was attracted by the essay question, as he was aware of changes in the labour market during and since the Covid-19 pandemic. He researched and wrote his essay over two days.

When news of his success came through by email, Avi was at Haberdashers’ Boys’ School playing water polo: “It was a bit surreal, and unexpected, but I was very happy. It’s nice to have my work out there for people to see. That is probably more gratifying than the prize money.”

He is looking forward to a possible career in economic journalism or policy-making, although he remains open-minded about his future. He enjoyed QE’s recent Entrepreneurship Festival, particularly enjoying the chance to hear from those who are going through the process of forming and growing a start-up.

His essay begins by outlining the exponential growth of the gig economy “with the advent of freelancing applications such as Uber”. Workers – or the “precariat” – forego stable incomes and job security and instead have flexible hours and greater independence.

Avi said he found a number of the issues interesting, such as the apparent disincentive for firms to invest in training staff where they do not see themselves as the main beneficiaries of that development. His argument was that the instability created by an expansion in the gig economy is not conducive to sustainable economic growth.

Another key point concerned the fiscal effects. Not only is the tax paid by a self-employed worker 35 per cent lower than the combined tax of a comparable conventionally employed worker and his employer, but there is also a reduction in VAT collected, since many self-employed workers do not exceed the threshold for paying VAT, whereas large corporations do.

He also pointed out the increased burdens placed on the welfare system by the gig economy, with self-employed workers far less likely to have a pension. During the pandemic, gig economy workers were left unable to work and “more likely to rely on the state for transfer payments”.

While acknowledging the merits of the gig economy – including the flexibility it gives to workers and the fact that it is accessible, providing an income to some who might otherwise be unemployed – he concluded that the “expansion in precariat work remains an unsustainable pathway to achieving growth… it has a tendency to limit productivity growth by reducing incentives to educate, worsening government balance sheets, and increasing inequality.”

Asked what he intends to do with the £1,000 prize, Avi responded with an economist’s answer, noting that he now has the capital to “save and invest”.

  • Avi’s essay may be read here.
Launching QE’s new pupil-run Science magazine

Bioquest, QE’s new, richly illustrated Science journal, features articles covering topics that range from a look at plant communication to an exploration of the eye’s importance in predicting human health.

The first edition is contained within the pages of The Econobethan, the School’s well-established Economics and Politics magazine, but future editions are intended to be stand-alone publications.

Edition XVII of The Econobethan takes as its theme The Economics of Conflict, looking at economic topics in theatres of war from Nazi Germany to the current conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “My congratulations go to the team who have launched Bioquest – I hope it will be the first edition of many. It is also good to see such a high-quality edition of The Econobethan.

“Such publications provide excellent opportunities for boys to display genuine academic curiosity and scholarship. Through its thematic approach, The Econobethan demonstrates how the big issues cut across disciplines.

“It is important that our pupils develop an understanding of the world around them, and these publications show that they are taking great interest and thinking carefully about context.”

Bioquest is produced by a six-strong editorial team. One of them, Year 12’s Advik Balaji, appeals in his introduction for “dedicated scientists to contribute articles” for future editions.

Its six articles all feature colour illustrations and are all written by pupils in Year 12. They include Kavinayan Manivannan’s investigation of The Plants’ Trojan Horse, which explores plant cells’ use of RNA defence systems against necrotrophic fungi. Shivam Vyas looks at Microbiome Engineering in Plants, considering how a recent research breakthrough could “dramatically cut the use of pesticides and unlock opportunities to bolster plant health”.

Seyed Jalili considers how the identification of CHIP (Clonal Hematopoiesis of Indeterminate Potential) in human blood cells might translate into effective treatments. Joshua John looks at the ethical implications of genetic screening in his piece entitled The Cost of a Human Life.

Within the Economics of Conflict-themed section of The Econobethan, the writers look both at particular wars and at economic lessons to be drawn from conflicts more generally. For example, Year 12’s Akheel Kale reflects on The Bizarre Nature of ‘Hitlernomics’ and Suryansh Sarangi, also of Year 12, explores the legacy of the British selling opium in China on the Chinese economy.

The magazine also includes a more general section on Economics, Politics and History.

  • For those with access to the School’s eQE network, The Econobethan and Bioquest may be viewed here.
Aiming higher than the summit

Writers for the latest issue of QE’s Econobethan magazine aim to make sense of complex environmental and economic issues as they look back at the COP28 summit.

The pupil-run magazine, produced in time to be read during the Christmas holidays, focuses on the summit in Dubai, while also exploring wider economic and political topics.

While celebrating progress made in combatting climate change, several of the articles identify potential or actual blockages to further progress – such as the lack of legal sanctions for countries failing to meet climate goals – and look at what can be done to move forward.

Economics teacher Celia Wallace said: “The new editors have done a wonderful job publishing this magazine, and the writers have been amazing at thinking outside the box and providing some good solutions for the problems at hand.”

The latest edition, which is issue XVI, was put together by a Year 12 editorial team comprising Zaki Mustafa, Tejas Bansal, Akheel Kale and Uday Dash.

In their introduction, they write: “Our team of writers have created a comprehensive analysis of [COP28] that is a must-read for those seeking clarity amidst the confusion of global geopolitics.”

In his own article, Leapfrogging Industrialisation, Tejas argues that the developed nations must assist the developing world in forgoing the traditional industrialisation route from which they have themselves benefited economically, and instead enable developing countries to reach their net carbon zero targets by helping them implement sustainable technologies. Tejas even provides a summary of the article in German.

Bemoaning “woefully ineffective” global climate action to date, Saim Khan, of Year 12, traces the issue to “the collective action problem, a deep-rooted psychological problem that means destructive self-interest is allowed to prevail over the greater good for all”.

Akaash Gill evaluates COP28 through a legal lens in his article entitled Enforcing Climate Justice, while fellow Year 12 student Shreyaas Sandeep takes a nuanced approach to dealing with the impacts of the OPEC oil cartel’s activities on COP28 and the climate crisis.

Other articles in the main COP28 section of the Econobethan are:

  • What will the effect of a green energy revolution be on the Middle East? by Vidyuth Shankar, Year 11
  • Is environmental sustainability and economic progress truly compatible? by Hari Kumarappan, Year 12
  • The impact of war on COP28: how the Israel-Hamas conflict has affected global climate diplomacy by Ayaad Salahuddin, Year 12.

The separate Economics and Politics sections feature articles on topics ranging from Rohan Varia’s look at whether Kenya has been successful in balancing the requirements of economic development with environmental sustainability to Year 12 student Andreas Angelopolous’s survey of right-wing populism within Europe. Akheel Kale, in his “brief exploration of agent-based modelling” (ABM) in Economics, looked at the opportunities that increased computing power in the 21st century has opened up to simulate intelligent agents in order to overcome the limitations of traditional macroeconomics.

“Saluting our sisters”: QE magazine spotlights high achievers in Black History Month

In its first edition of the academic year, the Econobethan celebrates four remarkable Black women – an astronaut, economist, businesswoman and MP – while also looking at the legacy of slavery in the US.

The special section devoted to Black History Month is followed by articles on Economics – including a look at the economic impact of AI – and Politics – where pupils express some forthright views on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s recent easing of green commitments.

The Econobethan is a pupil-run magazine from the Economics department. This fifteenth edition is the swansong for Year 13 editors Aditya Kute, Nishanth Bhasuru, Aston Daniel and Avinash Srivastava.

Economics teacher Celia Wallace said: “My thanks go to Aditya and his team for a strong edition and an excellent year.”

In their introductory editors’ note, the four-strong team write: “A topic that remains a staple within our publication is the contribution of people of colour to economics. Therefore, in commemoration of the 36th Black History Month, we have allocated a dedicated section to enhance comprehension of black history as a whole.”

In the first article, entitled Black History Month 2023 — Saluting Our Sisters, Aditya profiles three women:

  • Jessica Watkins, who in April 2022 became the first Black woman to complete a long-term mission on the International Space Station
  • Rosalind Brewer, who was appointed as CEO of US pharmacy store chain Walgreens in March 2021, thus becoming only the third Black woman ever to lead a Fortune 500 company on a non-interim basis
  • Chi Onwurah, Labour MP for Newcastle upon Tyne Central, who entered politics after a high-flying career in the technology and telecommunications sector.

Nishanth’s article on Sadie T M Alexander, a pioneering 20th-century African American economist and civil rights activist, is followed by Aston’s exploration of How Slavery’s Economic Echo Shapes America Today and Avinash’s look at contemporary Black economist William Darity.

The Economics section featured Year 13 pupil Soumil Sahjpall’s consideration of cryptocurrencies and whether they are being manipulated. He urged that investors should exercise caution and diversify their portfolios, stating that “whether in cryptocurrencies or traditional investments, the game is the same…The house may not always win, but it possesses significant advantages.”

The section featured two articles on AI – Year 12 boy Akheel Kale’s exploration of whether it will reshape the labour market, and Zaki Mustafa and his fellow Year 12 pupil Uday Dash’s examination of the economic impacts of adopting AI.

Akheel also delved into Economics theory, along with Year 12 pupil Shreyaas Sandeep. Shreyaas explored Game Theory and the Nash Equilibrium, while Akheel’s topic was Neuroeconomics: Better than Behavioural Economics? Tejas Banal, of Year 12, asked Are the High Wages for Top-Tier Sportspeople Justified?

In the Politics section – described by the editors as “robust” – Saim Khan, of Year 12,  thought through the question Would Democracies be Better Off Without Political Parties? and concluded with a resounding negative.

The final three articles all had environmental matters in mind. Shyam Jayabal, of Year 13, asked whether the Bank of England’s remit should be updated to address climate change challenges. Saim had the Prime Minister in his sights with his piece entitled Rishi’s Reckless Reversal on Green Commitments. And Year 12’s Dheeraj Karnati homed in on a specific item of Government policy – the recent delaying of the ban on the sale of petrol and diesel cars from 2030 to 2035 – with his piece, An In-Depth Analysis of the UK’s Trade Policies in the EV [Electric Vehicle] Market, in which he outlined the “worrying” situation in which “the Government unintentionally forced domestic car manufacturers to essentially subsidise their Chinese competitors whilst these competitors turn their attention to the UK and flood the market with their cheaper cars”.


A question of Economics: fun and games, with some serious thinking, too, in innovative subject festival

With events for all ages, QE’s Economics 450 Festival proved hugely popular with the boys.

The festival featured academic tutorials and a lecture from Old Elizabethans, board games, a quiz, a meeting of QE’s Gresham Society for Economics and a special edition of the department’s periodical, The Econobethan.

It was one of a series of innovative festivals being run by subject departments as part of QE’s new Flourish extra-curricular programme which are aimed at stimulating free-thinking scholarship among the boys. As QE celebrates its 450th anniversary, most have an anniversary theme.

Head of Economics Shamendra Uduwawala said: “Our events had huge turnouts and the festival may be regarded as a great success. I am grateful to everyone who contributed. The boys enjoyed the board games, the quiz and our visiting speakers, while our senior students have once again raised the bar with the festival edition of The Econobethan, which includes some really spectacular work.”

He also paid tribute to his Economics department colleagues, Krishna Shah, Celia Wallace, Abdoulaye Diallo and James Kane.

The festival’s biggest single event was the quiz for Years 7-11. Run in a similar style to the daily online Tradle Economics quiz, it involved boys answering questions delivered to their form groups as Microsoft Forms.

Staplyton, Underne and Harrisons’ tied for first place, with a score of 29, gaining them each 20 House points. Staplyton and Underne benefitted from particularly strong performances from Year 11, while Harrisons’ boys performed consistently across the year groups. The top form overall was 10H (Harrisons’), who scored 8 out of a possible 10 points.

Another highlight was a talk by economist and academic Sandeep Mazumder (OE 1993–2000), who is Dean of Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University, Texas.

Fellow alumnus Alistair Law (OE 2013–2020), who is in his final year at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), where he is reading Geography with Economics, held academic tutorials with a number of Year 12 and 13 economists.

The special session of the Gresham Society involved boys presenting articles they had written for The Econobethan PechaKucha-style – that is, 20 slides, with a maximum 20 seconds per slide.

The 450th anniversary edition of the publication itself includes articles on Economics and related subjects written by boys in Years 10 to 13, as well as an introduction by the Headmaster, Neil Enright.

He wrote: “As my predecessor, Dr John Marincowitz (Headmaster 1999-2011), explained at this year’s Senior Awards Ceremony, when discussing his new published history of the School, the fortunes of the School have repeatedly been shaped by the political, economic and social context of the time. He emphasised that much of the interest in the development of Queen Elizabeth’s, and its multiple reinventions over the centuries, can be found in considering not just the ‘what’, but in the ‘how’ and the ‘why’.

“These are questions and discussions that this special edition of The Econobethan takes up with great skill.”

Extending to 52 pages, the journal’s first article looks at the origins and political significance of the School’s Elizabethan Charter.

The widely varied contents also cover topics including:

  • How the British Empire Used Economics to Rule the World: A Game Theoretic Analysis
  • The History of Chemical Process Economics and Its Impact on the UK Economy
  • What Happens When Central Banks Lose Credibility?
  • Regal Ruler or Rigid System? The Pros and Cons of Monarchy Unveiled
  • The Revolutionary Effectiveness of Nudge Economics

In addition, there is a Languages section, in which Year 12’s Aayush Backory gave an overview of post-World War II economic policy in Britain – Il était une fois au Royaume-Uni. In Die Geschichte von Sir Thomas Gresham, Aditya Tiwary looked at the life of the 16th-century financier and merchant, Sir Thomas Gresham, who was among the School’s supporters at its foundation in 1573. The Gresham Society is named after him.

The Econobethan was edited by the Year 12 team of Aditya, Aston Daniel, Avinash Srivastava and Nishanth Bhasuru.







Inspiring, informative and timely: new issue of magazine features “high-quality” writing from QE’s Sixth Form economists

The 11th edition of The Econobethan – QE’s pupil-led magazine focusing on Economics, as well as on Politics and Sociology – spans the centuries and roams the continents.

It includes original writing from Year 12 pupils on topics ranging from the ancient world – the economic history of the Roman Empire – to the very contemporary concern of the climate crisis, and from the underlying causes of Africa’s poverty to Japan’s ‘apology culture’.

The 27-page magazine also has as its special theme, ‘Black history’, with four articles in a dedicated section. The Econobethan was published just ahead of this month’s launch of a statement expressing QE’s vision for a broad, diverse and inclusive curriculum.

Headmaster Neil Enright said: “The Econobethan is always a stimulating read, and this issue is no exception, with high-quality, considered submissions from the contributors that should serve to inspire deeper thinking and research from other pupils.

“The theme of Black history is timely: through the launch of our long-term vision for a broad, diverse and inclusive curriculum, we seek to build on the very thoughtful work that has already been done at the School, ensuring that our pupils are well-equipped to thrive in our diverse, modern world.”

The Econobethan is edited by Aditya Kute, Avinash Srivastava and Nishanth Bhasuru. In their introductory editors’ note, they write that the magazine aims to “shed light on economic points of interest, as well as providing a platform for some of the School’s most talented writers to delve into current economic affairs”.

In the Black history section, Aditya looks at why Black History Month is important. He spotlights Sir Arthur Lewis, still the only Black winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics (which he won in 1979), and Claudette Colvin, a pioneer of the American civil rights movement, who, at the age of 15, was arrested in 1950s Alabama for refusing to give up her seat on a crowded bus to a white woman.

Aston Daniel looks in more detail at the work of Sir Arthur, while a piece from Avinash is entitled How Does Systemic Racism Continue to Impact Economic Outcomes for African Americans? and Keith Correia writes on How was the war on drugs in the US used as a segregation tool?

Elsewhere in The Econobethan, Nishanth explores Underworld Economics and concludes that while informal markets do cause ‘numerous issues’, nevertheless ‘contrary to the common belief, they aren’t completely negative’, since, for example, they ‘provide a pathway for low-earning families…to get by and survive’.

In the Languages section, Aayush Backory discusses Le fer et les finances: partie 1: l’économie du Luxembourg du 19ème siècle (Iron and finance Part 1: The economy of 19th century Luxembourg) and Arjun Patel writes in German on How do we Deal With the Climate Crisis? (Wie Bewältigen wir die Klimakrise?)

Ace trader Pavan’s double triumph at hi-tech finance simulation

Year 11 pupil Pavan Kovuri came first on both days of a two-day simulated financial trading event open to Year 11–13 students from across the country.

Pavan, who already has his sights set on a career in trading, was among 20 senior QE boys to be commended for their performance in the Global Markets in Action programme.

The programme was run by financial recruitment consultancy Dartmouth Partners and Amplify Trading, who train people working in hedge funds and investment banks and use cutting-edge technology to simulate market conditions.

Assistant Head (Pupil Destinations) and Economics teacher James Kane said: “To have come first in both simulations was a remarkable performance by any standards and I heartily congratulate Pavan on his achievement.

“Congratulations also go to the other 19 boys who were commended by the judges with comments such as ‘superb trading on the sell side’ and ‘clearly understands the dynamics between [the] buy and sell side’.

“It is interesting to note that Dartmouth Partners are now keen to follow up with a number of our boys to arrange work experience in the finance sector.”

Overall, 50 QE pupils took part in the half-term event, the results of which have now been announced.

The workshop simulated the trading floor of an investment bank or hedge fund and aimed to teach participants how traders use their skills and knowledge to buy and sell stock to generate a profit. The boys had the opportunity to meet professionals from Amplify Trading and to gain practical career tips and insights, such as optimising LinkedIn and creating a CV that stands out.

Pavan came first on day one with a score of 96% for the ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) simulation. On day two – the Finance Accelerator simulation – he was ranked first in the asset management side of the simulator, scoring 86%.

Pavan said: “Before participating in the workshop, I was always fascinated with the world of trading in markets, but lacked practical experience; this two-day programme provided me with an immersive hands-on experience to solidify that passion, and drive me towards a future career in trading.

“The thrill of seeing your money fluctuate with every miniscule decision was stimulating, and it was amazing how Amplify managed to capture the buzz of real-life trading.”

Other stand-out performances from the QE group included that of James Stack (Year 12) and Abhinav Karla (Year 10), who jointly took first place in the sales trading aspect of day two.

In the pink: Zaki celebrates after winning Financial Times journalism competition

Zaki Mustafa was the “clear winner” in his age group in a prestigious financial journalism competition.

In his winning essay on the impact of technology on money, the Year 11 pupil ranged widely, starting with the first known currency in ancient Mesopotamia and ending with consideration of how modern financial companies could both use and abuse consumer data.

He won the 14–15 age group in the Young Financial Journalist competition run by the London Institute of Banking & Finance (LIBF) and the Financial Times (FT).

After reading his article, competition judge Claer Barrett, who is the FT’s Consumer Editor, said: “Zaki was the clear winner in this category. I loved his point about gambling with plastic chips and how this involves a similar sense of detachment to using contactless payments.”

Her fellow judge, mathematician, teacher, broadcaster and writer Bobby Seagull, praised the “very mature and clear writing for someone so young!”

Zaki was congratulated by QE’s Head of Economics Shamendra Uduwawala: “This was a well-argued piece of writing which gave an impressive overview of the opportunities and risks that come with the application of technology, including AI, to the world of finance.”

Reflecting on his success, Zaki explained why he had entered the competition. After starting his Economics GCSE last year, he said, “I wanted to educate myself a little bit about how technology is changing the way we view money.”

In his essay, he covered topics including:

  • Today’s near-cashless society
  • The rise in fraud and cybercrime, including the issue of scams that “impacts the elderly disproportionately”
  • The rise of “entirely intangible” cryptocurrencies.

The 730-word composition concluded: “In summary, technology has provided huge benefits to the financial world, namely making payments far more efficient and traceable than hard cash. In spite of this, one must always remember to be vigilant, in light of the increasing risks that are associated with such a luxury.”

Zaki wins a cash prize of £150 and a certificate bearing the judges’ comments. His prize also included ten free places for QE pupils to complete the LIBF’s Lessons in Financial Education (LiFE) programme.