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The Boston Globe

Business

Student’s critique of austerity policies creates firestorm

When Thomas Herndon, a third-year graduate student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, began a class assignment last fall, he had no inkling that he would end up in the middle of a furious debate over international economic policies.

But the results of Herndon’s work have sparked an academic and political firestorm over one of the most famous economic papers in decades, and over whether austerity or stimulus is the best route to long-term prosperity. On the evening of April 15, Herndon posted a paper that reported data flaws and other potential errors in an influential 2010 study by Harvard University professors Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff. By the next morning, the paper had become an Internet and media sensation.

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