Economists and austerity errors
By Srinivas Raghavendra
Sir, – The famously infamous spreadsheet error by economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff (Martin Wolf, Business, April 24th) and the subsequent debate on austerity has rightly or wrongly brought forth one important issue: the sensitivity of techniques, tools and methods that economists use to analyse economic data have immense consequences for economic policy.
The Massachusetts economists’ study that replicated the original Reinhart and Rogoff’s paper argues that in addition to the coding error they have also uncovered a non-standard weighting scheme and selective exclusion of available data, and they show that taking all these into account leads to the conclusion that the average GDP growth for countries with public-debt-to-GDP ratio of over 90 per cent is actually 2.2 per cent and not -0.1 per cent as estimated by Reinhart and Rogoff.
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