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A Perspective on Minsky Moments--The Core of the Financial Instability Hypothesis in Light of the Subprime Crisis

  • Alessandro Vercelli
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    This paper aims to help bridge the gap between theory and fact regarding the so-called "Minsky moments" by revisiting the "financial instability hypothesis" (FIH). We limit the analysis to the core of FIH--that is, to its strictly financial part. Our contribution builds on a reexamination of Minsky's contributions in light of the subprime financial crisis. We start from a constructive criticism of the well-known Minskyan taxonomy o f financial units (hedge, speculative, and Ponzi) and suggest a different approach that allows a continuous measure of the unit's financial conditions. We use this alternative approach to account for the cyclical fluctuations of financial conditions that endogenously generate instability and fragility. We may thus suggest a precise definition of the "Minsky moment" as the starting point of a Minskyan process--the phase of a financial cycle when many financial units suffer from both liquidity and solvency problems. Although the outlined approach is very simple and has to be further developed in many directions, we may draw from it a few policy insights on ways of stabilizing the financial cycle.

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    File URL: http://www.levyinstitute.org/pubs/wp_579.pdf
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    Paper provided by Levy Economics Institute in its series Economics Working Paper Archive with number wp_579.

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    Date of creation: Oct 2009
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    Handle: RePEc:lev:wrkpap:wp_579
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.levyinstitute.org

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    1. Sordi, Serena & Vercelli, Alessandro, 2006. "Financial fragility and economic fluctuations," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 61(4), pages 543-561, December.
    2. Philip Arestis, 2002. "Financial crisis in Southeast Asia: dispelling illusion the Minskyan way," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(2), pages 237-260, March.
    3. Desai, Meghnad, 1973. "Growth cycles and inflation in a model of the class struggle," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 6(6), pages 527-545, December.
    4. Jan Toporowski, 2008. "Minsky's 'induced investment and business cycles'," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(5), pages 725-737, September.
    5. Carl Chiarella & Roberto Dieci & Xue-Zhong He, 2008. "Heterogeneity, Market Mechanisms, and Asset Price Dynamics," Research Paper Series 231, Quantitative Finance Research Centre, University of Technology, Sydney.
    6. Paul Davidson, 2008. "Is the current financial distress caused by the subprime mortgage crisis a Minsky moment? or is it the result of attempting to securitize illiquid noncommercial mortgage loans?," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, M.E. Sharpe, Inc., vol. 30(4), pages 669-676, July.
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