债务-增长之争

斯坦福—最近,经济学家莱因哈特(Carmen Reinhart)和罗格夫(Kenneth Rogoff)2010年论文中的错误引起了一番争论,这对于24/7新闻周期需求和围绕美国、欧洲和日本的财政政策的不利政治环境来说是个悲剧。在他们的论文《债务时期的增长》(Growth in a Time of Debt)中,莱因哈特和罗格夫估算,当公共债务/GDP比率高于90%时将伴随增长的大幅下降。但这一结论存在代码错误,这一错误被麻州大学一位研究生发现了。纠正之后,这一效应小了很多,但仍具有经济学意义。

莱因哈特/罗格夫论文只不过是揭示高债务水平带来高经济风险的大量学术文章的一小部分。一个更为根本的问题是因果关系:经济的状态显然影响着财政状况,正如税收、支出、赤字和债务可以影响经济增长。

经济学中的研究错误并非稀罕事,但它们通常在早期阶段就被发现了,我的付梓前草稿也出现过这种情况。有时错误直到成为工作论文之后才被发觉,莱因哈特和罗格夫的论文就属于这种情形;也有可能在发表后才被发觉,诺贝尔奖获得者阿罗(Ken Arrow)就遇到过这种情形,他在证明他著名的不可能定理时犯了一个错误,不得不做出纠正。

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