Princeton 1, Harvard 0


Here’s the best public whine you will see from an academic in a long time, courtesy of Carmen Reinhart at Harvard:

We admire your past scholarly work, which influences us to this day. So it has been with deep disappointment that we have experienced your spectacularly uncivil behavior the past few weeks. You have attacked us in very personal terms, virtually non-stop, in your New York Times column and blog posts. Now you have doubled down in the New York Review of Books, adding the accusation we didn’t share our data. Your characterization of our work and of our policy impact is selective and shallow. It is deeply misleading about where we stand on the issues. And we would respectfully submit, your logic and evidence on the policy substance is not nearly as compelling as you imply.

You particularly take aim at our 2010 paper on the long-term secular association between high debt and slow growth. That you disagree with our interpretation of the results is your prerogative. Your thoroughly ignoring the subsequent literature, however, including the International Monetary Fund’s work as well as our own deeper and more complete 2012 paper with Vincent Reinhart, is troubling. Perhaps, acknowledging the updated literature-not to mention decades of theoretical, empirical, and historical contributions on drawbacks to high debt-would inconveniently undermine your attempt to make us a scapegoat for austerity. You write “Indeed, Reinhart-Rogoff may have had more immediate influence on public debate than any previous paper in the history of economics.”

Your research was widely cited to invalidate Kthug and other’s arguments, and then some kid with a better knowledge of excel than you two halfwits debunked all your bullshit, so now we get whiny letters to the open public. Maybe you should stop borrowing McMegan’s calculator. Just a thought. Or at least blame it on gastritis…

Christ, what a fucking joke. Do people no longer have any shame?

64 replies
  1. 1
    Redshirt says:

    Just post off the grid Cole is the best Cole.

  2. 2
    David Koch says:

    My question is why didn’t KThug and his Scoobies debunk the speadsheets themselves?

  3. 3
    dr. bloor says:

    Sloppy, cherry-picking careerists are butthurt when getting called out on their sloppy, cherry-picking work. Shocker.

  4. 4
    Zam says:

    I enjoy your graphic

  5. 5
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @David Koch: Why didn’t you debunk it?

  6. 6
    beltane says:

    We need a revival of ye olde dunce cap for these two clowns. If shame doesn’t come naturally to them, the sting of public ridicule may help them develop some character and ethics.

  7. 7
    cathyx says:

    Can’t we all just agree to sell out our reputations together? That way we all get rich. Win win.

  8. 8
    khead says:

    The ball has been neatly placed on the tee. Can’t wait for KThug to step up and whack it like a John Daly drive (circa 1992).

  9. 9
    dr. bloor says:

    @David Koch: Its one of those “in plain sight” fuck ups that you wouldn’t fathom to be in the realm of possibility for someone as far up the ladder as Carm and Kenny. My question is when Harvard decides that their children need closer supervision. They’re on a bit of a losing streak lately.

  10. 10
    Baud says:

    “We were particularly troubled by your column in which you referred to us as douchebags.”

  11. 11
    RepubAnon says:

    Merciful heavens – someone dared to criticize their stellar work. Conservatives are entitled to criticize liberals as a matter of right, but (even if the conservatives make math errors and cherry-pick their data) liberals should not take this as giving them the right to criticize conservatives.

  12. 12
    Suffern ACE says:

    I wonder if it was Reinhart and Rogoff who signed me up for Martha Stewart Living when I could swear I requested Harpers.

  13. 13
    El Caganer says:

    @David Koch: I think it’s because the UMass grad student was the only one they let actually see the data.

  14. 14
    Hill Dweller says:

    So predictable. Reinhart is the latest in what has become a long line of Austerians whining about tone.

  15. 15

    Is academia the new WaPo opinion page? +6

  16. 16
    The Dangerman says:

    The proper response to this is, of course, “Carmen, you ignorant slut”.


  17. 17
    David Koch says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: I had never heard of these people. moreover, I don’t run an econ blog, nor do I have a staff of Princeton researchers to direct.

  18. 18
    beltane says:

    @Hill Dweller: In a just world, Reinhart and Rogoff would be placed in stocks in the center of Syntagma Square, surrounded by angry, rotten egg wielding Greeks. After that, the roadshow should make stops in Madrid, Lisbon and Naples.

  19. 19
    eemom says:

    Stop stomping on yer own flamewars! Sheesh Cole, you suck. That GG-Sully thing could’ve been a contender.

  20. 20
    cbear says:

    Uh oh, I think Dr Krugman is going to be a little hard on the Beav(s) tonight.

    /Leave it to Beaver

  21. 21
    Baud says:

    including the International Monetary Fund’s work as well as our own deeper and more complete 2012 paper with Vincent Reinhart,

    Any amateur economists know what they’re referring to?

  22. 22
    cathyx says:

    @eemom: He had a couple of days off and he did a lot of thinking. Ok?

  23. 23
    PeakVT says:

    In case anyone missed them, here’s Konczal’s post on the Herndon et al paper, and a guest post on why the causality of debt and slow growth – something R&R didn’t highlight in their original paper but did highlight everywhere else – is probably reversed from what R&R implied it was.

  24. 24
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @David Koch: So instead you want to take shots at Krugman for not doing all the liberal economic heavy lifting in the world. Christ.

  25. 25
    NickT says:


    Leave Auric Colefinger aloooooooooooooooooooone!

  26. 26
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:


    Not seeing it- as potentially epic, that is. I read it and chuckled. I’m not seeing who would be flaming whom for any logical reasons.

  27. 27
    fuckwit says:

    The butthurt is of Herculean scale.

    Also, why is this post not tagged “gastritis broke my calculator”?

  28. 28
    cyntax says:

    @El Caganer:

    You are correct sir. The two of them wouldn’t share their data for the longest time and didn’t send it through a peer reviewed journal. So yeah…

  29. 29
    max says:

    @David Koch: My question is why didn’t KThug and his Scoobies debunk the speadsheets themselves?

    Because no one had the spreadsheet R&R used. Krugman called the error without seeing the spreadsheet, although there were actually several errors. The guy who found the errors pestered them several times before R&R sent them the data, but they did send it to him apparently because he was a student. (His graduate class assignment was to replicate the findings of some famous paper.)

    It seems pretty clear to me that R&R wanted a pro-austerity result and they got one. And then they got caught out. And this is bad for their business. (The problem with economics isn’t the economics, it’s the economists.) I almost feel bad for them because they are getting beaten like rented mules, so they’re reduced to this pretty pathetic performance.

    I almost feel bad for them.

    Christ, this one is pathetic, Bloomberg versus LaPierre is just disgusting, and Greenwald v. Sully is just ridiculous.


  30. 30
    raven says:

    The Heat scored 70 points in the first half and have 4 in the first 5 minutes of the 3rd!

  31. 31
    Maude says:

    From Twitter, Weather Underground.
    There are a lot of tornado warnings up for NE.
    Also MO and WY.
    Anyone in these areas, please be safe.

  32. 32
    NickT says:

    I think we can summarize the Rogaine and Rhinestone Epistle to the Krugmanians thus:

    A screaming comes across the sky

  33. 33
    David Koch says:

    @max: I guess KThung never heard of “link or it didn’t happen”

  34. 34
    Scott Alloway says:

    “Do people no longer have any shame?”
    Short answer: No.

  35. 35

    Somebody get those two some Desitin©.

    Or not.

  36. 36
    Steeplejack says:

    I wish we would go ahead and win the goddamn war on terror so I don’t have listen to “God Bless America” at the seventh-inning stretch of every goddamn baseball game. But it will probably continue forever as a grand “tradition.”

  37. 37
    Maude says:

    We’ll hold a parade and be done with it.

  38. 38
    MikeInSewickley says:

    Tenured are always right and can’t stand having their feefees hurt. And have a student show they were wrong??? God , no!!! Doesn’t matter that the Euros that believed this shit now have unemployment in the 20s% and people are committing suicide.

    The politics and infighting in higher ed surpasses anything other than Washington DC. I spend decades in industry but nothing compares to the bloodletting in academia. And these are the folks teaching the next batch of 1%ers…

  39. 39
    scav says:

    Damn glad to have another chance to chime in with a general piss off you academic poseurs in Reinhart and Rogoff and the enabling institution they rode in on’s direction. You’re (plural) an embarrassment to the tradition and ideals and becoming more so.

  40. 40
    mathguy says:

    @dr. bloor: More on the losing streak: Cruz and Cotton are products of Harvard Law.

  41. 41
    Egypt Steve says:

    Can we just fucking stop ever saying “troubling”? And can we also just fucking stop every saying “chilling”?

  42. 42
    Steeplejack says:

    A good early report on the Reinhart-Rogoff fiasco—Mike Konczal, “Researchers Finally Replicated Reinhart-Rogoff, and There Are Serious Problems” (April 16, 2013):

    After trying to replicate the Reinhart-Rogoff results and failing, [UMass researchers Thomas Herndon, Michael Ash and Robert Pollin] reached out to Reinhart and Rogoff, and they were willing to share their data spreadsheet. This allowed Herndon et al. to see how how Reinhart and Rogoff’s data was constructed.

    They find that three main issues stand out. First, Reinhart and Rogoff selectively exclude years of high debt and average growth. Second, they use a debatable method to weight the countries. Third, there also appears to be a coding error that excludes high-debt and average-growth countries. All three bias in favor of their result, and without them you don’t get their controversial result.

    Krugman wrote before this that he thought Reinhart-Rogoff’s conclusions were incorrect, but no one could debunk the spreadsheets because they weren’t made available until the UMass people got them.

  43. 43
    Jon says:

    Or as I like to call it, the whole “Nobel Prize winner versus the hacks who fucked up and got caught by a grad student making a spreadsheet error” saga.

    But they’re for austerity, and therefore are serious, and Krugman is shill, so… you know how that goes.

  44. 44
    feebog says:

    let’s be very clear about this. The work Reinhart and Rogoff did was not just an oppise with the autosum function in Excel (although how you can fuck that up is beyond me). They deliberately omitted data from several countries that would have disproved their theory. Additionally, they refused to release their work or have it peer reviewed.

    And now they want to pitch a fit because KThug is calling them on their bullshit. They should be apologizing, resigning their positions and made to wait tables at a third rate restaurant in Greece for the rest of their lives.

  45. 45
    Redshirt says:

    @Egypt Steve: I find your distaste of the word “troubling” chilling.

  46. 46
    mvr says:

    So these are probably not bad people, but they don’t live up to their role. You write papers on important stuff that if taken seriously has widespread effects on people, in particular the people with the least chance to do alright. And, given your clout it gets taken seriously. But you were wrong and as a result some (lots of) people get screwed for no reason. And someone who has gotten to play that public role more prominently and better than you have criticizes you for it. So you dig in. And you complain when they get frustrated at the very bad effects on folks who haven’t got the clout to fight back and call your work (not you) out.

    I can see how easy it would be to fall into doing that (if I had the platform to screw up so prominently and influentially). But it doesn’t make it right and it compounds what may have been just a mistake rather than a more serious error motivated by more worrisome motives.

    One should admit one fucked up and then move to mitigate the bad effects of that fuck-up on those with more than their feelings and reputations at stake. Not complain that someone was uncivil to point out one’s errors that led to consigning the less well off to unemployment and poverty.

  47. 47

    The douchebag from UChicago was better. “How the fuck can I afford subsidized private school for my kids on my 6 figure academic salary after Obama raises my taxes 4%!”

  48. 48
    trollhattan says:

    That’s a heck of a list of complaints about Krugman. But why did they leave these out?

    He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
    He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
    He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
    He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
    For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
    For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

    Take the butthurt to eleven, guys.

  49. 49
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @David Koch: What are you talking about?

    A lot of people tried to replicate R&Rs results and failed, this is one of the reasons it was so suspect, along with the fact that it didn’t make sense. Krugman wrote about this several times. When the grad student asked they finally just sent him the spreadsheet and all hell broke loose.

  50. 50
    Joel says:

    @David Koch: because, for all we talk about reproducibility, academics don’t have the time to check in real time. For big publications, the truth comes out eventually. Note: I am not i economics.

  51. 51
    in no way an economist says:

    @David Koch:

    Here’s what Herndon et al said in their paper

    We were unable to replicate the RR results from the publicly available country spreadsheet data although our initial results from the publicly available data closely resemble the results we ultimately present as correct. Reinhart and Rogoff kindly provided us with the working spreadsheet from the RR analysis. With the working spreadsheet, we were able to approximate closely the published RR results. While using RR’s working spreadsheet, we identi ed coding errors, selective exclusion of available data, and unconventional weighting of summary statistics.

  52. 52
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Scott Alloway:

    Do people no longer have any shame?

    Objection, your honor! In this case, it has not been established that these two ever had any shame.

  53. 53
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    They should be apologizing, resigning their positions and made to wait tables at a third rate restaurant in Greece for the rest of their lives.

    Normally, I’d call for seppuku, but again, that would assume they ever had any honor to begin with, and are feeling intense shame, which is clearly not the case. So I think waiting tables at a third rate restaurant in Greece (“No Coke, Pepsi!”) would be an appropriate disposal of them.

  54. 54
    Scotius says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    The problem with having them wait tables is that they’d be taking jobs away from 2 Greeks who desperately need them thanks to Reinhart and Rogoff induced austerity.

  55. 55
    Jamey says:

    What REALLY pisses me off is that the sloppy work Drs Rogoff and Reinhart are laboring furiously to defend was funded by a Sloan Foundation grant. Which means that people who actually needed the money to produce work of actual value had to get in line behind–and make sure they were out of the line of fire of–this colossal wank-fest.

    Carmen Reinhart’s “I’m sorry, but …” sounds like the sort of thing my 10-year-old daughter would pull.

  56. 56
    Monkey Business says:

    The amount of harm Carmen Reinhart and Vincent Rogoff have caused, through what is clearly incredibly sloppy academic work, is so vast as to be unthinkable. In a more civilized time, they would have had the choice to either fall on their swords or be stoned in the public square.

    Unfortunately, in this uncivil age, all we have is Paul Krugman, lobbing rhetorical bombs from the Opinion section of the New York Times.

  57. 57
    Lurking Canadian says:

    @👽 Martin: It was more detailed than that:

    After we pay the mortgage on our million dollar home, the payments on our two luxury cars and the tuition for our kids in private school and put 100K per year away for our retirement, we’re barely scraping by! Why, if Obama goes ahead with this tax increase, we might have to fire the help!

    Should be remembered with “Let them eat cake” in the historical record. Worse actually, since apocryphal Marie was just clueless and well-meaning, not whiny and grasping.

  58. 58
    dmsilev says:

    @👽 Martin: We have _quality_ douchebags here. Between the Economics department, the Business school, and the Law school (source of the particular specimen of interest), it’s basically a captive breeding program. God only knows why; it’s not like they’re an endangered species.

  59. 59
    Thoughtful David says:

    @Monkey Business:
    I don’t think “sloppy” can apply here. It’s pretty unlikely to make three separate errors in something this simple, and have all three go the same direction to support your conclusion. There is a one-word descriptor that actually passes Occam’s Razor, being the simplest explanation:


  60. 60
    Booger says:

    For some reason I cannot remember this pair of sniffing twits as anything other than “Bader-Meinhof,’ who, while aspiring to the downfall of western civilization as we know it, did far less to achieve that objective with violence than these clowns did with Excel.

  61. 61
    RSA says:


    Krugman wrote before this that he thought Reinhart-Rogoff’s conclusions were incorrect, but no one could debunk the spreadsheets because they weren’t made available until the UMass people got them.

    Here’s Dean Baker: It Would Be Helpful if Rogoff and Reinhart Made Their Data Available in July, 2010. That is, the paper came out in early 2010, I think, but no one could replicate the results given just the data in the tables.

    More than three years later…

  62. 62
    Barbara says:

    A long time ago I worked on a team writing a brief and one of the people responsible for researching a single issue missed a case. It wasn’t determinative, and there was a fairly obvious reason for why it was missed having to do with timing. Didn’t matter. We got so much sh*t from the person in charge even though most of us literally had nothing to do with the oversight, that he basically refused to work with any of us ever again and trashed us to anyone who would listen. Dear Ms. Reinhart, that’s how the rest of the world works. You fucked up, and everyone else gets to think less of you. Now you now know what it’s like to be forced to eat shit instead of just doling it out. Be a big girl (you have tenure for God’s sake) and just stop WHINING because you WERE WRONG and everybody knows it.

  63. 63
    Howard Beale IV says:

    @feebog: At this point, especially since Reinharts Applendix 2 states she all-in for Simpso-Bolwles, any pronouncement from using R&R ‘s work as being objective is now damaged goods.

    OTOH, one will want to look at the Econobrowser’s claims that the spreadsheets were available that far back, and also do a further drill down into his defense of R&R’s walking their reserach back when it got picked up by the governments:

    Another often-repeated and equally groundless charge has been that Reinhart and Rogoff failed to distance themselves from politicians and pundits who maintained that Reinhart and Rogoff’s research lent support to austerity measures as the preferred short-term fiscal policy. You can find countless vociferous repetitions of this false allegation in the comment sections to items [1]-[4] linked above. But again it is straightforward to use internet archives (as Reinhart and Rogoff now have) to uncover the actual public record of what they did and did not say at various historical dates. For example, in an interview with the BBC in July 2011 Rogoff stated:

    The current strategy that calls for years of austerity and recession in the periphery countries is just not tenable.

    Or see this reported summary of Carmen Reinhart's position in The Guardian in April 2010:

    The world’s best known female economist has warned cutting the deficit the Tory way would send the UK back into recession.

    You will find links to literally dozens more examples of statements like these in the Reinhart-Rogoff open letter.

    Not that facts matter to those who took up the cudgels. The smear campaign had only one purpose– to distract people from thinking clearly about the consequences of the current high debt loads of many of the world’s countries. On this fundamental question you can also find much to help set the record straight in Reinhart and Rogoff’s open letter.

    But be forewarned– there are many folks out there who still think that if that if they just keep shouting lies and nonsense loudly enough they can prevent you from hearing Reinhart and Rogoff’s true message.

    This is analysis is interesting on several levels: levels: (1) In defending R&R from his view that they are being cudgeled, what is he really saying? Is he trying to make the case that winning the argument is more important than the incorrect conclusions their flawed analysis showed, and should be ignored (note that the author takes issues the analysis by the post-grad and his advisors), but winds up back the the base core of the issue of correlation/causation.

  64. 64

    The sad thing is that the Very Serious People won’t care that the intellectual underpinning of what they believe is a fraud. Austerity is just too truthy. It might not be true, but who cares. It feels true. You can’t let something as inconsequential as a little run of the mill fraud or gross incompetence trip austerity up.

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