Stablizing an Unstable Economy / Edition 1

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Overview

“Mr. Minsky long argued markets were crisis prone. His 'moment' has arrived.” -The Wall Street Journal

In his seminal work, Minsky presents his groundbreaking financial theory of investment, one that is startlingly relevant today. He explains why the American economy has experienced periods of debilitating inflation, rising unemployment, and marked slowdowns-and why the economy is now undergoing a credit crisis that he foresaw. Stabilizing an Unstable Economy covers:

  • The natural inclination of complex, capitalist economies toward instability
  • Booms and busts as unavoidable results of high-risk lending practices
  • “Speculative finance” and its effect on investment and asset prices
  • Government's role in bolstering consumption during times of high unemployment
  • The need to increase Federal Reserve oversight of banks

Henry Kaufman, president, Henry Kaufman & Company, Inc., places Minsky's prescient ideas in the context of today's financial markets and institutions in a fascinating new preface. Two of Minsky's colleagues, Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, Ph.D. and president, The Levy Economics Institute of Bard College, and L. Randall Wray, Ph.D. and a senior scholar at the Institute, also weigh in on Minsky's present relevance in today's economic scene in a new introduction.

A surge of interest in and respect for Hyman Minsky's ideas pervades Wall Street, as top economic thinkers and financial writers have started using the phrase “Minsky moment” to describe America's turbulent economy. There has never been a more appropriate time to read this classic of economic theory.

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What People Are Saying


“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.”—John Cassidy, The New Yorker

“The journey from subprime mortgages to a major credit crisis, a weak economy and broken business models in finance could all have been foreseen through Hyman Minsky’s perspectives. His work remains essential to understanding the ground beneath us and the path ahead.” —George Magnus, Senior Economic Adviser, UBS Investment Bank

“It is time to revive an old issue: Just how inherently unstable are economies? But instead of getting much guidance these days from contemporary economists, we need to turn to some of the giants from the past. The work of Hyman Minsky . . . is especially on the mark.”—Jeff Madrick, The New York Times

“Hyman Minsky's work has never been more valuable. His financial instability hypothesis, complete with hedge, speculative and ponzi units, has played out to a T in the U.S. property and mortgage markets over the last half decade.”—Paul McCulley, Managing Director, PIMCO
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780071592994
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Professional Publishing
  • Publication date: 4/14/2008
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 350
  • Sales rank: 637,178
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Hyman P. Minsky, Ph.D., was an American economist who studied under Joseph Schumpeter and Wassily Leontief. He taught economics at Washington University, University of California—Berkeley, Brown University, and Harvard University. Minsky joined the Jerome Levy Economics Institute of Bard College as a distinguished scholar in 1990, where he continued his research and writing until a few months before his death in October, 1996. His two seminal books were Stabilizing an Unstable Economy and John Maynard Keynes.

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Table of Contents


Foreword   Henry Kaufman     vii
Preface and Acknowledgments to the First Edition   Hyman P. Minsky     ix
Minsky's Stabilizing an Unstable Economy: Two Decades Later   Dimitri B. Papadimitriou   L. Randall Wray     xi
Introduction     1
Economic Processes, Behavior, and Policy     3
Economic Experience     13
A Deep Recession But Not a Depression in 1975: The Impact of Big Government     15
A Deep Recession But Not a Depression in 1975: The Impact of Lender-of-Last-Resort Intervention     43
The Emergence of Financial Instability in the Postwar Era     77
Economic Theory     107
Perspectives on Theory     109
The Current Standard Theory: The After-Keynes Synthesis     129
Prices and Profits in a Capitalist Economy     157
Investment and Finance     191
Financial Commitments and Instability     219
Institutional Dynamics     247
Banking in a Capitalist Economy     249
Inflation     283
Policy     317
Introduction to Policy     319
An Agenda for Reform     327
Financing Structures     371
Consumer Prices and Real Wages     381
Index     385
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 20, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Stabilizing an Unstable Economy

    The late professor Hyman P. Minsky wrote this study of economic volatility in 1986, as an era of frequent economic crises was shaking investors’ confidence. His treatise remains relevant today. Minsky doesn’t mention dot-com bubbles or subprime mortgages, yet he manages to nail contemporary economic reality. As the economist who lent his name to “the Minsky Moment,” that point in time when markets tip from prosperity to crisis, he often repeats his concerns about income inequality, seeming to predict the current debate about ever-increasing concentrations of wealth. But in case you consider labeling Minsky as just a tax-and-spend liberal, consider that he frowns on welfare and long-term unemployment benefits. He’s no master stylist as a writer, but Minsky’s prose is generally clear enough to reward readers who seek his insight. getAbstract recommends this classic analysis to readers seeking a skeptical perspective on free markets.

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  • Posted April 29, 2009

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    Brilliant study of a failed system

    This classic work of political economy, first published in 1986, has valuable lessons for us today. Minsky studies the recessions of 1975 and 1982, economic theory, institutions, particularly banks, and finally presents an agenda for reform.

    Financial traumas have led to ever-worse recessions, in 1970, 1975, 1979-80, 1982, 1987, 2002 and the present. As he notes, "the normal functioning of our economy leads to financial trauma and crises, inflation, currency depreciations, unemployment, and poverty in the midst of what could be virtually universal affluence - in short, .. financially complex capitalism is inherently flawed." Yet he believes, "the collapse of aggregate demand and profits, such as occasionally occurred and often threatened to occur in pre-1933 small government capitalism, is never a clear and present danger in a Big Government capitalism such as has ruled since World War Two." Life is disproving this hope.

    What causes these recessions? Minsky writes, "the Wall Streets of the world are important; they generate destabilizing forces. . This instability is not due to external shocks or to the incompetence or ignorance of policy makers. Instability is due to the internal processes of our type of economy. The dynamics of a capitalist economy which has complex, sophisticated, and evolving financial structures leads to the development of conditions conducive to incoherence - to runaway inflations or deep depressions." Strangely, capitalism can't handle capital: "capitalism is flawed precisely because it cannot readily assimilate productive processes that use large-scale capital assets."

    What is to be done? He warns, "Meaningful reforms cannot be put over by an advisory and administrative elite that is itself the architect of the existing situation." Then he stresses, "The emphasis on investment and 'economic growth' rather than on employment as a policy objective is a mistake. A full-employment economy is bound to expand, whereas an economy that aims at accelerating growth through devices that induce capital-intensive private investment not only may not grow, but may be increasingly inequitable in its income distribution, inefficient in its choices of techniques and unstable in its overall performance." But, as Minsky acknowledges, capitalism cannot deliver full employment: "Capitalist market mechanisms cannot lead to a sustained, stable-price, full-employment equilibrium."

    He proposes, "Public control, if not out-and-out public ownership, of large-scale capital-intensive production units is essential." He suggests nationalising the railroads and the nuclear power industry, as private enterprise runs both so poorly.

    He also notes capitalism's other failures: "the market mechanism . cannot and should not be relied upon for important, big matters such as the distribution of income, the maintenance of economic stability, the capital development of the economy, and the education and training of the young." It seems we can't rely on capitalism for anything.

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    Posted January 10, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 12, 2009

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