Unilever Centre for Molecular Informatics, Cambridge - Building an OKFN model for reproducible economics; why we need it (and a puzzle for you). « petermr's blog
"On Saturday we are having an economics hackathon in London. I’d love to be there but unfortunately am going to the Eur Sem Web Conf in Montpelier. It’s run by Velichka and colleagues – here’s the sort of reason why (from OKFN blog) Velichka Dimitrova revisted the disgraced Reinhart-Rogoff paper on austerity economics, the perfect evidence of the need for open data in economics – and was picked up by the London School of Economics and the New Scientist. The point is that economists made very serious mistakes and that proper management of the data and tools could have prevented it. We have to work towards reproducible computation in sciences and economics. From Velichka’s blog (and then I set you a puzzle at the end): 'Another economics scandal made the news last week. Harvard Kennedy School professor Carmen Reinhart and Harvard University professor Kenneth Rogoff argued in their 2010 NBER paper that economic growth slows down when the debt/GDP ratio exceeds the threshold of 90 percent of GDP. These results were also published in one of the most prestigious economics journals – the American Economic Review (AER) – and had a powerful resonance in a period of serious economic and public policy turmoil when governments around the world slashed spending in order to decrease the public deficit and stimulate economic growth. Yet, they were proven wrong. Thomas Herndon, Michael Ash and Robert Pollin from the University of Massachusetts (UMass) tried to replicate the results of Reinhart and Rogoff and criticised them on the basis of three reasons:  Coding errors: due to a spreadsheet error five countries were excluded completely from the sample resulting in significant error of the average real GDP growth and the debt/GDP ratio in several categories  Selective exclusion of available data and data gaps: Reinhart and Rogoff exclude Australia (1946-1950), New Zealand (1946-1949) and Canada (1946-1950). This exclusion is alone responsible for a significant reduction of the estimated real GDP growth in the highest public debt/GDP category  Unconventional weighting of summary statistics: the authors do not discuss their decision to weight equally by country rather than by country-year, which could be arbitrary and ignores the issue of serial correlation ...' So Saturday’s hackathon (I might manage to connect in on Eurostar?) is about building reliable semantic models for reporting economics analyses. Since economics is about numbers and chemistry is about numbers there’s a lot in common and the tools we’ve developed for Chemical Markup Language might have some re-usability. So this morning Velichka, Ross Mounce and I had a skype to look at some papers ..."