American Airlines grounded; economists make Excel mistake

A board shows delayed American Airlines flights at Miami International Airport on April 16, 2013 in Miami, Fla. Thousands of American Airlines travelers became stranded today when the airline was forced to ground all its flights after a nationwide problem with its computer systems.

This final note on the way out this Tuesday. Some odds and ends we didn't get to elsewhere.

Item one: American Airlines. This was a very rough day for them. They were grounded -- not flying a single plane -- for about four hours today. A computer glitch in their reservations system, of all places, forced 'em to cancel 400 some odd flights.

Item two: Also not a good day for economists Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff. If you recognize those names, it's because they wrote a very high-profile paper a couple of years ago showing, they said, that countries with a lot of debt grow really, really slowly. It kind of became the guidebook for government backing government austerity.

Why a bad day for these two? A different paper out today says the Rogoff-Reinhart analysis doesn't hold up because -- and here's the great part -- they missed a column in their Excel spreadsheet.

Economists being economists, there's a rebuttal coming soon, I'm sure.

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, the most widely heard program on business and the economy in the country.


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