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Twelve months ago, exchange rates, retail sales, the housing market, employment and inflation were meaningless measurements to team leader Kari Schmidt, Emma Elsom, Surangna Chansrichavala, Laura Manson and Erin Wilson.
But some "real life" economic experiences gained while preparing for the Southern Region Monetary Policy Challenge earlier this year inflated their enthusiasm for economics and landed them a place in the national final of the Monetary Policy Challenge at the Reserve Bank.
"We used to find economics quite dry. Reading it from a textbook made it difficult for us to understand how it applies to us in real life. It's so complex.
"But this challenge has sparked an interest in economics for all of us," Kari said.
On Thursday, the team will compete against five other teams from across the country.
Using the same information as Reserve Bank economists, the team will assess the economic conditions facing New Zealand and the outlook for inflation.
They will decide on an appropriate setting for the official cash rate and present their reasoning to a judging panel.
The team will also be grilled with 20 minutes of questioning by the judges.
Kari said the winning team would return to Wellington on September 11, to hear Dr Bollard deliver the official Monetary Policy Statement.