By Elisabeth Barthélemy, Head of communications and school administrative support at AMSE
A team consisting of a PhD and three Master Economics students was selected to participate in the Econometrics Game 2022. A very rewarding team experience.
AMSE enters students in competitions organized both by leading companies and by universities because these are great opportunities to confront the field, apply what they’ve been learning, and add to their knowledge. Every year, the VSAE student association of the University of Amsterdam organises the Econometric Game, launched in 1999. For three days, an Olympics-like competition gathers teams from nearly thirty universities around the world in Amsterdam to compete for the coveted prize of best econometrics team. Participants Ulrich Aiounou (M2 track Empirical and Theoretical Economics), Pierre Dumontel (M2 track Quantitate Finance and Insurance), Antoine Pinto (M2 track Econometrics, Big Data, Statistics), and Federico Gonzalez-Etchebehere (PhD) recall their experiences at the game.
Antoine Pinto, Captain of the AMSE team during the game, had already participated in the “Machine Learning” Hackathon initiated by Airbus Helicopters and in the “Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning” game at Paris-Dauphine University. He explains that “my appetite for econometrics and competition drove me to participate and represent AMU-AMSE”. The same goes for Pierre Dumontel, who had previously taken part in Deloitte’s DRIM GAME challenge. Federico Gonzalez-Etchebehere, currently a PhD student, wanted to test the econometrics knowledge he has been acquiring through research and as a teaching assistant in econometrics courses at Universidad de la República in Uruguay. He says he thought the Econometric Game “would help me practice my research skills in a different setting, closer to the demands of jobs in the policy and industry sectors”.
The VSAE association engages with professors and professionals to create a case-study that is both challenging and relevant. “The organization team of the Game chose what they called a ‘case-maker’ team of university professors and economists from the Dutch Central Bank, who developed a case to be solved”, explains Federico Gonzalez-Etchebehere. Each year, the game is held in two parts, the first lasting two days. This year, university teams competed on an econometrics topic applied to macroeconomics. “The objective was to estimate the Phillips curve, which describes the relationship between inflation and the unemployment rate, by considering the external factors which have affected this relationship in the euro zone over the last 20 years” specifies Antoine. The deliverable was a research paper from which the jury selected 10 universities for the final. “The objective of the second part was to estimate a set of 3 equations, respectively the supply, the demand and the interest rate, using the Phillips curve equation obtained in the first part”.
Antoine Pinto et Pierre Dumontel were able to apply knowledge acquired through their macroeconomics courses to develop their arguments and implement the models. In this setting, Mrs Céline Poilly’s course was “particularly valuable, as we repeatedly used techniques such as the Hodrick-Prescott filter to dissociate business cycles from the long-term trend or the study of the impact of macroeconomic shocks”. Programming skills were also required, with exclusive use of the R software taught in the master and magistère programmes’ curriculum. Federico Gonzalez-Etchebehere explains that “my theoretical econometrics knowledge and applied skills were essential to answer the question; most of them were learned in my master’s at Sussex University, at KU Leuven university, and my research”.
This experience is particularly positive and enriching for the students in terms of developing their technical skills as well as their interpersonal and teamwork skills. “I had never really experienced the efficiency that can be obtained from working in a group. We built a great team”, confirm all the students. In addition to the competition, Amsterdam was a discovery for some of them and they “had a lot of fun!”.
Federico Gonzalez-Etchebehere’s natural ambition is to “finish my PhD in one piece! But seriously, I want to continue researching to contribute to understanding and tackle the main obstacles to building a more egalitarian, environmentally friendly, and socially integrated society for everyone”.
Currently doing his end-of-study internship as an actuarial research officer at AXA, Pierre’s ambition is to become a Data Scientist.
After his internship as a Data Scientist at Equancy, Antoine is hesitating between “entering the job market, doing a CIFRE thesis in machine learning, and taking a holiday. Social debate and thinking about progress are also important in my life: I will continue in this direction alongside my professional activity”.
The motivation, thoroughness, and scientific diligence of Antoine, Pierre, Ulrich, and Federico led them to write a fifteen-page article during the first part of the competition, and this put AMU-AMSE into the final alongside nine other universities (out of the twenty-nine delegations) such as Harvard, Oxford, and Toronto. HEC Lausanne won the competition but “It was the first year AMSE qualified for the final”. Congratulations, guys!
Participating universites: Aix-Marseille University (AMU/AMSE), University of Cambridge, University of St. Gallen, Universita Degli Studi Firenze, University of Copenhagen, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Harvard University, Tilberg University, Aarhus University, University of Bristol, Université d’Orléans, University of Oxford, Lund University, Alma Mater Studiorum Universita di Bologna, Liebniz Universitat Hannover, Universidad del Rosario, Universiteit Stellenbosch, Ensae, Université de Nantes, SGH Warsaw School of Economics, Université de Lausanne, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Maastricht University, University of Amsterdam, University of Antwerp, University of Toronto, Tor Verata University of Rome.
→ This article was issued in AMSE Newletter, Summer 2022.