Response to Charges on Herdon/Ash/Pollin replication of Reinhart/Rogoff “Growth in a Time of Debt”

Source: Robert Pollin, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), Research Brief, January 2, 2014

The April 2013 preliminary working paper by Thomas Herndon, Michael Ash and myself “Does High Public Debt Consistently Stifle Economic Growth,” (HAP 2013A) which was a critical replication of the 2010 paper, “Growth in a Time of Debt” by Professors Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, generated an intense global debate within hours of it being posted online. This reaction took us totally by surprise. But once this global debate began, we were not surprised at all that the reactions to our working paper varied widely among academics, policy analysts, journalists, bloggers, and the public at large. Of course, we took special notice of the responses by Professors Reinhart and Rogoff themselves. Beyond Reinhart and Rogoff’s comments, it has been impossible for us to keep track, much less address, the myriad of issues and perspectives advanced in this global debate.

At this point, eight months after we posted our working paper, my co-authors and I have now had the opportunity to move the debate into a more formal scholarly setting. This is because we have now published a revised version of our paper in the Cambridge Journal of Economics (HAP 2013B). This revised paper addresses the comments on our working paper by Reinhart and Rogoff (RR). These responses by RR have enabled us to focus our analysis in the CJE paper more sharply than was possible in our preliminary working paper. In the interests of achieving further clarity on the important issues at hand, Professors Reinhart and Rogoff (and anyone else for that matter) are now free to send comments on our paper to the editors of the CJE. We would especially welcome such a response by Professors Reinhart and Rogoff.

In addition to the purely scholarly issues that we have addressed in our initial working paper and our revised and published CJE paper, Reinhart and Rogoff, Rogoff writing by himself, and some others, including Professor Angus Deaton, have raised related matters of concern over the past months that require a response. These matters include questions of professional conduct, political biases, methodology, interpretations of our critical replication exercise, and the implications of our results. It is appropriate to address some of these issues in this separate document, as opposed to our published CJE paper. For the most part, they are clearly matters that do not belong in an academic paper. We consider five topics: 1) Professional standards and political biases; 2) Issues with our replication exercise; 3) Research errors and methodological differences; 4) The statistical patterns that emerge from our replication relative to those by RR; and 5) Overall significance of our findings for policy debates. …
Public debt, GDP growth, and austerity: why Reinhart and Rogoff are wrong
Source: Robert Pollin, Oxford University Press, OUPblog, January 3, 2014