Reinhart and Rogoff seem to be correct in one basic respect: Economic growth does seem to be lower in very-high-debt countries. But the entire debate over their paper's flaws begs the central question of cause and effect. Is growth lower because of the high debt? Or does cause-and-effect the other way around?
Expect next week's policy meetings to signal that central bank stand ready to step in, once again, to maintain the disconnect between buoyant equity markets and sluggish economic conditions -- not as an end in itself but, given Congressional dysfunction, as virtually the only way today to support economic activity (and it is rather imperfect as the expected benefits come with growing costs and risks). Look for the Federal Reserve to alter the thrust of its policy narrative. Rather than advance its prior emphasis on tapering its monthly $85 billion purchases of market securities, it will seek to reassure markets by iterating its willingness to do more if needed. Across the Atlantic, the European Central Bank will face increasing pressure to cut its interest rate (currently at 0.75%) and liberalize the collateral requirements it imposes -- both meant to loosen monetary conditions.