For most people -- arguably even for most economists -- all that mattered was the knowledge that countries with debt over 90 percent of GDP tend to have slower growth than countries with debt below 90 percent of GDP. Simple and clear. Everyone who received that message recognised it for what it was. In the cloudy consciousness of humble non-statisticians, it was a vital warning on debt issued by two cautious and meticulous researchers - Reinhart and Rogoff.
Public availability of that knowledge exerted pressure upon policymakers to recognise adequately the risks of large debt. The Reinhart-Rogoff data planted seeds of caution in the minds of policymakers under ideological siege from Keynesians clamouring for additional public debit and deficit spending during slow growth.