Tag Archives: error

NBERBog off, Rogoff.

And take Reinhart-less with you.

Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart’s influential study on the economics of austerity – which has provided statistical comfort to the ECB, Fine Gael/Labour coalition and Goldman Sachs – is apparently WRONG.

Three scholars at the University of Massachusetts have found that Rogoff and Reinhart  made a number of blunders in their research including a Excel coding error, which has distorted some of their paper’s key findings.

Paul ‘Buzzkill’ Krugman explains:

“Some of us never bought it, arguing that the observed correlation between debt and growth probably reflected reverse causation. But even I never dreamed that a large part of the alleged result might reflect nothing more profound than bad arithmetic.

“But it seems that this is just what happened. Mike Konczal has a good summary of a review by Herndon, Ash, and Pollin. According to the review paper, R-R mysteriously excluded data on some high-debt countries with decent growth immediately after World War II, which would have greatly weakened their result; they used an eccentric weighting scheme in which a single year of bad growth in one high-debt country counts as much as multiple years of good growth in another high-debt country; and they dropped a whole bunch of additional data through a simple coding error.”

“Fix all that, say Herndon et al., and the result apparently melts away.”

“If true, this is embarrassing and worse for R-R. But the really guilty parties here are all the people who seized on a disputed research result, knowing nothing about the research, because it said what they wanted to hear.”


Holy Coding Error, Batman (The Conscience Of A Liberal, New York Times)

Researchers Finally Replicated Reinhart-Rogoff, and There Are Serious Problems (Mike Konczal)

Previously:Why Ajai Chopra’s Sad-Eyed Friend Was So Sad