The Mysterious Powers of Spreadsheets

April 9, 2014 | 0

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?

Read more on BBC News

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