Quote of the Day: Excel Error Destroys the World

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From Mike Konczal, summarizing a new study that says Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff made a coding error in a famous paper claiming that economic growth slows down in countries with debt levels above 90 percent of GDP:

If this error turns out to be an actual mistake Reinhart-Rogoff made, well, all I can hope is that future historians note that one of the core empirical points providing the intellectual foundation for the global move to austerity in the early 2010s was based on someone accidentally not updating a row formula in Excel.

In an update, Konczal tries to be a killjoy:

People are responding to the Excel error, and that is important to document. But from a data point of view, the exclusion of the Post-World War II [data] is particularly troublesome, as that is driving the negative results. This needs to be explained, as does the weighting, which compresses the long periods of average growth and high debt.

Yeah, yeah. The authors of the study suggest that R&R’s paper has three separate problems: (a) exclusion of some high-growth/high-debt years following WWII, (b) weighting of slow-growth episodes in a dubious way, and (c) the Excel error. I assume that Reinhart and Rogoff will respond to all of this at some point.

In the meantime, though, I prefer to think of this as the Excel Error Heard Round the World.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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