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Financial Markets Instability: Sources & Remedies A Minskian View. Steve Keen University of Western Sydney A Primer on Minsky. Firstly ignored by Neoclassical economists:

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financial markets instability sources remedies a minskian view

Financial Markets Instability: Sources & RemediesA Minskian View

Steve KeenUniversity of Western

a primer on minsky
A Primer on Minsky
  • Firstly ignored by Neoclassical economists:
    • “Minsky … argued for the inherent instability of the financial system but … departed from the assumption of rational economic behaviour…
    • I do not deny the possible importance of irrationality in economic life; however it seems that the best research strategy is to push the rationality postulate as far as it will go.” (Bernanke 2000, p. 43)
  • Now misinterpreted by them (Krugman & Eggertsson 2010)
    • “A Fisher-Minsky-Koo approach”?
      • Equilibrium DSGE model
      • Without endogenous money or banks
      • Where aggregate debt doesn’t matter (only distribution)
a primer on minsky1
A Primer on Minsky
  • In general rejection of Neoclassical model:
    • “The abstract model of the neoclassical synthesis cannot generate instability.
    • When the neoclassical synthesis is constructed,
      • capital assets,
      • financing arrangements that center around banks and money creation,
      • constraints imposed by liabilities, and
      • the problems associated with knowledge about uncertain futures
    • are all assumed away.
    • For economists and policy-makers to do better we have to abandon the neoclassical synthesis.” (Minsky 1982 , p. 5)
a primer on minsky2
A Primer on Minsky
  • In particular (from Fisher & Schumpeter as well as Minsky):
    • Disequilibrium
      • “Theoretically there must be over or under everything…
      • It is as absurd to assume that the variables in the economic organization, or any part of them, will "stay put," in perfect equilibrium, as to assume that the Atlantic Ocean can ever be without a wave.” (Fisher 1933, p. 339)
  • “Stable growth is inconsistent with an economy in which debt-financed owner­ship of capital assets exists. It follows that …
  • the fundamental instability of a capitalist economy is upward.
  • The tendency to transform doing well into a speculative investment boom is the basic instability in a capitalist economy.” (Minsky 1982)
a primer on endogenous money
A Primer on Endogenous money
  • Endogenous money and banks (Schumpeter 1934, p. 73)
    • “the conventional answer is not obviously absurd,
    • yet there is another method of obtaining money…
    • the creation of purchasing power by banks…
    • It is not transforming purchasing power which already exists
    • but the creation of new purchasing power out of nothing.”
  • Debt—Investment link confirmed by Fama-French empirical work:
    • “These correlations confirm the impression that debt plays a key role in accommodating year-by-year variation in investment.” (Fama and French 1999, p. 1954)
    • “Debt seems to be the residual variable in financing decisions. Investment increases debt, higher earnings tend to reduce debt.”
for absent friends

 ”I’m all for including the banking sector in stories where it’s relevant; but why is it so crucial to a story about debt and leverage?”

For Absent Friends…
  • New York Fed Senior VP Alan Holmes (1969): Monetarism makes…
  • “a naive assumption that the banking system only expands loans after the System or market factors have put reserves in the banking system.
  • In the real world, banks extend credit, creating deposits in the process, and look for the reserves later.
  • In any given statement week, the reserves required to be maintained by the banking system are predetermined by the level of deposits existing two weeks earlier.
  • Since excess reserves in the banking system normally run at frictional levels the level of total reserves in any given statement week is also pretty well determined in advance.
  • Since banks have to meet their reserve requirements each week … that total amount of reserves has to be available to the banking system.”
for absent friends1
For Absent Friends…
  • “There is no evidence that either the monetary base or M1 leads the cycle, although some economists still believe this monetary myth…
  • The difference of M2-M1 leads the cycle by even more than M2, with the lead being about three quarters…
  • The fact that the transaction component of real cash balances (M1) moves contemporaneously with the cycle while the much larger nontransaction component (M2) leads the cycle suggests that credit arrangements could play a significant role in future business cycle theory.
  • Introducing money and credit into growth theory in a way that accounts for the cyclical behavior of monetary as well as real aggregates is an important open problem in economics.”

(Kydland and Prescott 1990)

a primer on minsky continued
A Primer on Minsky continued
  • Minsky: growing aggregate private debt source of economic growth
    • “If income is to grow, the financial markets must generate an aggregate demand that is ever rising.
    • For real aggregate demand to be increasing, it is necessary that current spending plans be greater than current received income and
    • that some market technique exist by which aggregate spending in excess of aggregate anticipated income can be financed.
    • It follows that over a period during which economic growth takes place, at least some sectors finance a part of their spending by emitting debt or selling assets.” (Minsky 1982)
  • Rising debt also finances Ponzi behaviour & asset bubbles
a primer on minsky3
A Primer on Minsky
  • “Ponzi income falls short of interest payments on debt so that the outstanding debt will grow due to interest on existing debt… Ponzi units can fulfill their payment commitments on debts only by borrowing… a Ponzi unit must increase its outstanding debts.’ (Minsky 1982, p. 24)
  • Ponzi debt drives up asset prices:
  • “During a period of tranquility, there will be a decline in the value of the insurance that the holding of money bestows.
  • This will lead to a rise in the price of capital assets so that a larger admixture of Ponzi finance is accepted by bankers.
  • In this way the financial system endogenously generates at least part of the finance needed by the increased investment demand that follows a rise in the price of capital assets.” (Minsky 1982, p. 107)
a strictly monetary view of aggregate demand
A strictly monetary view of aggregate demand
  • Two sources of monetary demand
    • Income (Wages + Profits)
    • Borrowing (Change in Debt)
  • Two categories of supply
    • Goods & Services (Consumer + Investment Goods/Services)
    • Net new financial assets
  • Schumpeter:
    • Incomes mainly spent on consumption
    • Change in debt main source of funds for investment
  • Minsky: Change in debt also finances Ponzi behavior
walras schumpeter minsky law
Walras-Schumpeter-Minsky Law
  • Aggregate Demand = Income + Change in Debt
  • Aggregate Supply = Good & Services + Net Asset Turnover
  • Implications for macro & finance:
    • Change in debt a factor in level of employment, output
  • Debt acceleration drives change in GDP & asset prices
  • Change in debt explains crisis (& “Great Moderation” before it)
  • Accelerating debt explains why asset bubbles must burst
aggregate debt overview
Aggregate debt overview
  • Private debt far more important than government debt:

Great Moderation


  • Only the Great Depression compares to now
  • & “Roaring Twenties” to “The Great Moderation”

Great Depression

Roaring 20’s

aggregate debt overview1
Aggregate debt overview
  • Higher level of debt today than now
  • Different distribution part of why crisis less severe

Lower Business Debt

Much higher Finance Sector Debt

Higher Household

  • Dynamics of aggregate private debt explain both Depressions
change in debt aggregate demand1
Change in Debt & Aggregate Demand
  • Today—compared to Then
share prices the long view
Share Prices—the long view
  • Dow Jones deflated by the CPI
share prices the long view1
Share Prices—the long view
  • Deviation from trend
house prices deflated by cpi the long view
House Prices deflated by CPI—the long view
  • NO trend; long term average 98
  • “a "bubble" in home prices does not appear likely
  • home price declines, were they to occur, likely would not have substantial macroeconomic implications.” (Greenspan to Congress, August 2005)
sources remedies
Sources & Remedies
  • Accelerating debt THE source of asset price bubbles
  • Breaking debt-asset price nexus essential to stop bubbles
  • Two modest but fundamental proposals
    • “Jubilee Shares”
      • Last forever when purchased from firm
      • Can be sold on secondary market 7 times
      • After 7th sale, last 50 years then expire
    • “The Pill”
      • Property Income Limited Leverage
        • Maximum mortgage (say) 1o times property income
  • NO reliance on regulators, fine tuning, etc.
  • Negative feedback loop between asset prices & change in debt
  • Debt reserved for beneficial investment, not Ponzi Schemes
just one more thing remedy for today s crisis
“Just one more thing…Remedy for today’s crisis”
  • “Modern Debt Jubilee”
    • “Quantitative easing for the public”
  • Cancel irresponsibly created debt without penalizing savers
    • Fiat money injection via private bank accounts
      • First usage must be debt reduction
      • Bank debt necessarily paid down
        • Solvency maintained, liquidity challenged
      • Bonds reduced in value
      • But non-debtor bond-holders receive cash injection
    • Minimal damage to aggregate demand, inflation/deflation