Paul Lachine

Une erreur fatidique

PARIS – La controverse est essentielle à l'avancement de la science. Ainsi, la mise à jour de défauts méthodologiques et d'une erreur de codage dans un article écrit par les économistes Carmen Reinhart et Kenneth Rogoff n’est qu’un fait de la vie quotidienne dans le milieu universitaire. Pourtant, la couverture de la controverse par les médias et la blogosphère a été étonnamment intense – et simpliste.

“Growth in a Time of Debt,” le court article de 2010 dans lequel Reinhart et Rogoff affirmaient que la dette publique commence à avoir un effet significativement négatif sur la croissance économique lorsqu’elle atteint 90% du PIB, n'a jamais été une contribution majeure de recherche économique. En tant que caractérisation empirique grossière de faits stylisés, il a été reçu de manière quelque peu sceptique par la communauté académique, et les deux auteurs étaient connus pour des contributions beaucoup plus notoires. Google Scholar, le moteur de recherche académique, enregistre plus de 3000 citations académiques de l'article le plus cité de Rogoff, contre moins de 500 pour “Growth in a Time of Debt”.

Ce qui serait normalement resté un sujet de papotage d’après séminaire est cependant devenu un sujet de discussion par les journalistes, les commentateurs et les responsables politiques. Pour chacun d'eux, ce qui importe, c'est que le triste sort de l’article Reinhart / Rogoff ébranle les arguments en faveur de l'austérité budgétaire.

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