Saturday, May 24, 2014

Thomas Piketty book flawed by errors?

This could be the story of the year on the book of the decade. FT claims its investigation of the spreadsheets used by Thomas Piketty in his sensational book, Capital in the 21st century, showed there were serious errors:
The data underpinning Professor Piketty’s 577-page tome, which has dominated best-seller lists in recent weeks, contain a series of errors that skew his findings. The FT found mistakes and unexplained entries in his spreadsheets, similar to those which last year undermined the work on public debt and growth of Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff.

.....In his spreadsheets, however, there are transcription errors from the original sources and incorrect formulas. It also appears that some of the data are cherry-picked or constructed without an original source.For example, once the FT cleaned up and simplified the data, the European numbers do not show any tendency towards rising wealth inequality after 1970. An independent specialist in measuring inequality shared the FT’s concerns.
Chris Giles provides a detailed critique of these errors here

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