Conservatives' Favorite Debt Study Revealed as Fake

But Alex Pareene doubts they'll change their tune

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 17, 2013 3:32 PM CDT

(Newser) – For years, conservatives have been crowing about a study from Harvard economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff showing that countries with a debt-to-GDP ratio of more than 90% usually have negative GDP growth. It's been used to justify austerity pushes around the globe. But Reinhart and Rogoff have always refused to actually reveal their data, and now a new paper has found that they excluded years of inconvenient data and made various other errors and weird choices that, when corrected, show that average GDP actually comes out positive, writes Alex Pareene at Salon.

"This is important—it should in fact be a Big Deal—because Reinhart and Rogoff have been the ultimate authorities" for austerity fans, he writes. "It is sort of shocking, to me, that respected economists can release a widely cited paper without just putting their damn Excel spreadsheet online." Reinhart and Rogoff have tried to defend themselves, but not very convincingly, writes Josh Barro at Bloomberg. "It is reminiscent of the 'fake but accurate' defense of the forged memos" questioning President Bush's National Guard service. Check out Barro's full column for an in-depth breakdown. Or click for Pareene's full post.

Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff perpetrated some really bad math.
Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff perpetrated some really bad math.   (Shutterstock)
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