The Colbert Report: R&R Austerity One Big Joke

Reinhart and Rogoff continue to pay the price for methodological flaws in their public debt research that has driven policy makers to implement austerity measures in DMs around the world. The latest econ commentator to pick up the issue is Stephen Colbert, who explored the reaction to a graduate student’s debunking of the original research:

“You got to think Harvard economists understand debt … almost as much as Harvard graduates”.

Reinhart and Rogoff have attributed the discrepancy in findings by University of Massachusetts graduate student Thomas Herndon to coding errors in their research, not picked up by economists until now. Colbert continues:

“Now after publication in 2010, one economist complained that they refused to share their data. Well of course they didn’t share their data. If they can’t use excel, I doubt they could send email attachments.”

One notable flaw in the research was the omission of data from Canada, Australia and New Zealand (left out of a cell formula), which showed growth rather than contraction, following a recession and amid high public debt. Big deal! Cried Colbert:

“Oh please. If ignoring New Zealand, Australia, and Canada were a crime, everyone in America would be on death row.”

You can watch the video here, or view it below: