After two Harvard economists admitted a faulty spreadsheet calculation caused errors in a study used by numerous politicians to support their austerity policies, writer Colm O’Regan pays tribute to the power of Microsoft Excel.
They called it a “coding error”. This made it sound like they were sequestered in a bunker surrounded by black screens on which a continuous parade of figures flickered past.
Instead it was just someone using Excel on a laptop who was highlighting cells for a formula and released his index finger from the left-clicky button of his mouse too soon.
The debate has raged – well raged is a strong word, perhaps sulked? – since Monday about the significance of the calculation mistake made by Reinhart and Rogoff in their 2010 paper for the American Economic Review, Growth in a Time of Debt.
Did the conclusions about debt, growth and need for painful correction send the politicians of the world to the special cabinet to dust off the scourges?
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