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The Economic Contributions of Hyman Minsky: Varieties of Capitalism and Institutional Reform


  • Dimitri B. Papadimitriou

    (The Jerome Levy Economics Institute)

  • L. Randall Wray

    (The Jerome Levy Economics Institute)


Hyman Minsky's work represents one of the most important links between Post Keynesians and Institutionalists. We begin, in this essay, with a brief summary of some of his earlier work, including his well-known "financial instability hypothesis" and his policy proposals that were designed to reform the financial system, but pay more attention to his writings that explore other analysis and policy proposals that are less well known. These have been for the most part developed in the later years, after the publication of his Stabilizing an Unstable Economy (1986) book, and during his association with the Levy Institute. Minsky always insisted that theory must be institution-specific. Because there are a variety of possible types of economies, and even "fifty seven" varieties of capitalism, theory must be appropriate to the specific economy under analysis. His analysis concerned an evolving, developed, big-government capitalist economy with complex and long-lived financial arrangements. His policy recommendations were designed to promote a successful, democratic form of capitalism given these financial arrangements. These policies would have to "constrain" instability through creation of institutional "ceilings and floors" while at the same time they would have to address the behavioral changes induced by reduction of instability. The policies would also have to promote rising living standards, expansion of democratic principles, and enhancement of security for the average household. Thus, his proposals go far beyond "invisible handwaves" of free market idealogues, but also well beyond macroeconomic tinkering normally associated with "Keynesians" to take into consideration the required institutional change that would promote the sort of society he desired. In this sense, we think it is accurate to claim that Minsky successfully integrated "Post" (or, better, "financial") Keynesian theory with an institutionalist appreciation for the varieties of past, current, and feasible future economic arrangements.

Suggested Citation

  • Dimitri B. Papadimitriou & L. Randall Wray, 1998. "The Economic Contributions of Hyman Minsky: Varieties of Capitalism and Institutional Reform," Macroeconomics 9802018, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpma:9802018
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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Domenico Delli Gatti & Mauro Gallegati & Hyman P. Minsky, 1994. "Financial Institutions, Economic Policy, and the Dynamic Behavior of the Economy," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_126, Levy Economics Institute.
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    3. Hyman P. Minsky, 1993. "Finance and Stability: The Limits of Capitalism," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_93, Levy Economics Institute.
    4. Hyman Minsky, 1994. "Financial instability and the decline(?) of banking: public policy implications," Proceedings 20, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    5. Hyman P. Minsky, 1996. "Uncertainty and the Institutional Structure of Capitalist Economies," Journal of Economic Issues, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 30(2), pages 357-368, June.
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    7. Ferri, Piero & Minsky, Hyman P., 1992. "Market processes and thwarting systems," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 3(1), pages 79-91, June.
    8. Ronnie Phillips, 1992. "The 'Chicago Plan' and New Deal Banking Reform," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_76, Levy Economics Institute.
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