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That was their first reply. They made a second attempt in the Financial Times. They admitted the coding error

However, it leads to a notable change in the average growth rate for the over-90-per-cent debt group. The median growth rate we report is the right order of magnitude.

(I'm glad they aren't designing an airplane.)

They still say that growth is slower as debt gets higher, and as stated in the statement above, they claim that median, rather than mean, growth rates are consistent with their original projections, even with the Excel change.

But, they've muddled correlation with causality. Consider two possible interpretations.

a) High debt causes slow growth.
b) Slow growth causes high debt.

Personally, I'd go with option "b". When the Great Recession hit, millions of people were laid-off and received Unemployment Insurance benefits and Food Stamps (aka SNAP).

Unemployment insurance benefits went from an average of 8 million laid-off workers (2006 & 2007) to 14.4 million (2009).

Food Stamps (SNAP) expenditures:

FY Avg Participation Total Benefits
--Thousands-- --Millions of Dollars--
2007 26,316 30,373.27
2008 28,223 34,608.40
2009 33,490 50,359.92
2010 40,302 64,702.16
2011 44,709 71,810.92
2012 46,609 74,619.46

This doesn't even mention lost revenue due to millions of people no longer paying taxes because their income is too low to tax.
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