Top: Getting Money Right

The Minsky Moment

Stanley Dundee

2017-09-05 v. 1

Minsky's seminal work was reissued in 2008 by the Levy Institute in recognition of the relevance of his prescient analysis to the mortgage meltdown of 2007. From the blurb for Stabilizing an Unstable Economy:

Minsky insisted that there is an inherent and fundamental instability in our sort of economy that tends toward a speculative boom. Unlike other critical analyses of capitalist processes, which emphasize the crash, Minsky was more concerned with the behavior of agents during the euphoric periods. And unlike other analyses that blame shocks, irrational exuberance, or foolish policy, he argued that the processes that generate financial fragility are natural, or endogenous to the system.

Here's John Cassidy at the New Yorker from 2008 on the subprime mortgage crisis and possible recession:

Twenty-five years ago, when most economists were extolling the virtues of financial deregulation and innovation, a maverick named Hyman P. Minsky maintained a more negative view of Wall Street; in fact, he noted that bankers, traders, and other financiers periodically played the role of arsonists, setting the entire economy ablaze. Wall Street encouraged businesses and individuals to take on too much risk, he believed, generating ruinous boom-and-bust cycles . . . There are basically five stages in Minsky's model of the credit cycle: displacement, boom, euphoria, profit taking, and panic. A displacement occurs when investors get excited about something—an invention, such as the Internet, or a war, or an abrupt change of economic policy . . . As a boom leads to euphoria, Minsky said, banks and other commercial lenders extend credit to ever more dubious borrowers, often creating new financial instruments to do the job... at the top of the market (in this case, mid-2006), some smart traders start to cash in their profits... The onset of panic is usually heralded by a dramatic effect...