Pity the fool that takes on Jim Hamilton.
Jim then added a few more comments. His tone is graceful, but the content is stinging — for prof. Hamilton basically suggests that they are the ones who do not understand statistics!
Pollin and Ash then repeat the arguments in their paper about the desirability of treating all country-years equally without responding to the particular critique of their argument that I originally provided. The issue I raised has nothing to do with serial correlation. The issue instead is whether the expected GDP growth rate should be regarded as if it is the same number across different countries. A well-known econometric method for dealing with this is referred to as “country fixed effects.” In this method, one uses the average for the Greek observations as an estimate of the Greek growth rate and the average of the U.S. observations as an estimate of the U.S. growth rate. This is a widely used procedure. By contrast, the weighting proposed by Herndon, Ash, and Pollin assumes that the expected growth rate is the same across different countries, an approach that is less widely chosen for panel data sets and in my opinion less to be recommended. Given that the ultimate goal in this case is to infer an average effect across different countries, I personally feel that a random-effects approach would be superior to fixed-effects estimation, particularly given the unbalanced nature of the panel (that is, given the fact that we have many more observations on the 90% debt state for some countries than for others). As I noted in my original piece, this would yield an estimate that would be in between those or RR and HAP. But to suggest that there is some deep flaw in the method used by RR or obvious advantage to the alternative favored by HAP is in my opinion quite unjustified