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Austerity programme proved to be ‘nonsense’ based on a spreadsheet mistake

April 19, 2017

Vox Political

George Osborne famously shed tears at the funeral of Margaret Thatcher - but were they really for the Blue Baroness, a woman he is understood to have met only once (twice if you count Wednesday), or was it because he'd just heard that the entire theory that formed the basis for his economic policy had just disappeared from under him? George Osborne famously shed tears at the funeral of Margaret Thatcher – but were they really for the Blue Baroness, a woman he is understood to have met only once (twice if you count Wednesday), or was it because he’d just heard that the entire theory forming the basis for his economic policy had just disappeared from under him?

The government’s principal justification for pursuing austerity lay in tatters today, after it was revealed that the economic theory behind it is based on a mistake.

The Chancellor’s entire austerity policy is based on a paper by economists Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff, which is itself based on a spreadsheet concluding that public debt of more than 90 per cent of a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) slows down growth by 0.1 per cent – which is wrong.

It should have found that countries with such levels of debt see their economies…

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