IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Uncertainty and the Institutional Structure of Capitalist Economies


  • Hyman P. Minsky


In this working paper Distinguished Scholar Hyman P. Minsky explores the theoretical and practical causes of today's rising economic uncertainty and insecurity. He begins by noting views of uncertainty held by Keynes and adherents of the new classical economics by comparing Keynes's The Treatise on Probability and Sargent's Bounded Rationality in Macroeconomics. According to both views, decisions are made by agents based on varying degrees of ignorance and supposition; the agents have a more or less limited amount of knowledge and base their judgments on their own idea of how the economy works (their "model of the model"). In addition, agents are not homogeneous, but have differing abilities and histories. Thus the internal models used to guide decisions are not consistent from agent to agent. Minsky notes that although according to Sargent's concept of bounded rationality, all agents at any one time need not be acting according to mutually consistent models, Sargent ignores a point stressed by Keynes about the decision-making process: Economic events at any one time are the result of past mental models (and corresponding actions and expectations), and those past models are different from current models (and correspondingly different actions and expectations); therefore, factors that might determine long-term expectations are in a continuous state of flux. Despite this difference, the gap between the ideas of the two schools of thought have narrowed. Minsky points out that capitalism in the United States is an ever- evolving construct that recently entered a new stage: money manager capitalism. In this form of capitalism, nearly all businesses are organized as corporations; pension and mutual funds are the predominant owners of financial assets; and managers of these funds are judged solely on the total return on fund assets (dividends and interest plus appreciation in share value). One consequence of the money manager structure is predominance of short-ru
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • Hyman P. Minsky, 1996. "Uncertainty and the Institutional Structure of Capitalist Economies," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_155, Levy Economics Institute.
  • Handle: RePEc:lev:wrkpap:wp_155

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:lev:wrkpap:wp_155. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Elizabeth Dunn). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.