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Can "It" Happen Again?: Essays on Instability and Finance Paperback – June 1, 1982

ISBN-13: 978-0873323055 ISBN-10: 087332305X

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Can "It" Happen Again?: Essays on Instability and Finance + Stabilizing an Unstable Economy + John Maynard Keynes
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 301 pages
  • Publisher: M.E. Sharpe (June 1, 1982)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 087332305X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0873323055
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #503,955 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Hyman Minsky, who died more than a decade ago, spent much of his career advancing the idea that financial systems are inherently susceptible to bouts of speculation that, if they last long enough, end in crises. At a time when many economists were coming to believe in the efficiency of markets, Mr. Minsky was considered somewhat of a radical for his stress on their tendency toward excess and upheaval. Today, his views are reverberating from New York to Hong Kong as economists and traders try to understand what's happening in the markets. ... Indeed, the Minsky moment has become a fashionable catch phrase on Wall Street." --The Wall Street Journal, August 18, 2007

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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By James F. Mueller on June 16, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This great book is composed of thirteen essays restating and elaborating Minsky's great contribution to economics: the Financial Instability Hypothesis (FIH). The basic idea is that because the realized returns on any investment project are uncertain (and not merely risky), the contractual debts firms and entrepreneurs incur in financing these investments are inherently unstable. The "subjective state of expectations" will give rise to three different methods of financing: hedge, speculative, and ponzi. Hedge financing occurs when there are considerable margins of safety between fixed payments and *expected* returns. Speculative financing is defined by a project which over the course of its operations will generate *expected* revenue that will be greater than fixed payments, even though in the short-term these payments will be larger than initial realized returns. This gives rise to refinancing, which occurs if both parties to the agreement (lender and borrower) agree on the expected rates of return. Ponzi financing is a very unstable state in which the *expected* realized returns are not even sufficient in paying either the interest or principal on loans.

Now one moves from hedge to speculative and then to ponzi finance according to the general mood of the market. If the market is experiencing a "state of tranquility," then the typical margins of safety that characterize hedge finance will be displaced by speculative finance which is still considered safe according to entpreneurial optimism. This is all subject to change, however. The performance of the market, interest rate changes, rapid changes in animal spirits, etc. etc. are all conditions which give rise to market instability.

In so many words, this is basically Minsky's FIH.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Franz Woyzeck on January 11, 2009
Format: Paperback
Minskys analysis the inherent instability of the capitalist economy has long been ridiculed by the naive believers of market efficiency and permanent equilibrium. Reading Minsky in the light of the current credit crisis is a haunting experience. His analysis is both original and flawless.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Michael Emmett Brady on July 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
Minsky demonstrates that the major determinant of inflation and deflation problems in capitalist economies is the private banking industry's funding of speculation on Wall Street,be it the balloon payment mortgage loans and margin account stock market credit arrangements of the 1920's or the subprime mortgages and derivatives of the 1980's-2000's.The primary goal of all Wall Street speculators is to generate profits without the physical production of goods and services.Minsky improves upon Adam Smith's 1776 analysis in The Wealth of Nations and J M Keynes's 1936 analysis in the GT by breaking the analysis of speculation up into three separate parts or stages.The last part-Ponzi finance-is the most dangerous because it means that the economy is definitely going to be subjected to a major economic downturn as firms enter bankrutcy in mass.

The only criticism I have is that Minsky missed the chance to completely nail down his financial fragility hypothesis by making explicit reference to the detailed analysis of Adam Smith,Keynes and Mandelbrot.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Gregory Alan Wingo on August 27, 2013
Format: Paperback
This is less a book than a collection of Minsky's papers published over the years in various economic journals. Of course, this is a plus on two points 1) It is economics not philosophy and 2) It allows the reader to see the evolution of his thought from the the 60s to the early 80s.

In Chapter Two Minsky provides the basic formula for the relationship of our advance economy:

After Tax Profits = Investment + the Government Deficit - the Balance of Trade Deficit + Consumption Out of Profit Income - Saving Out of Wage Income

Reflection on this will allow the reader to better understand the complex relationships that govern the performance of the economy and the interconnection between Big Business, Big Government, executive pay, consumer behavior, and many other areas. He outlines three other types of economies where the following formulas hold sway:

1) Profits = Investment (Pre-Keynesian, small government)

2) After Tax Profits = Investment + Government Deficit (Huge Government with private investment)

3) After Tax Profits = Investment + the Government Deficit - the Balance of Trade Deficit

3a) Profits = Investment - the Balance of Trade Deficit

Utilizing formula 3a he predicts the Japanese economic malaise of the 90s in 1980.

The other chapters in the book focus on unveiling the nature of true Keynesian economics untainted by the Neoclassical synthesis and, thereby, allowing the creation of policies to avoid another Great Depression. Unfortunately, no one was listening in the heydays of Reagan's supply-side reign of terror that has continued to lead us to the Great Recession. One hopes that policymakers with the Minsky Moment on their lips will also be taking the time to read his thoughts on the issues that are inherent in the capitalist system we are embedded in.
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13 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Linksman on October 10, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Some rent seeking editor seems to have collected a pile of Professor Minsky's papers and wrapped them in a snazzy title for public consumption. Although unintelligible to the lay reader, Minsky is justly renowed for his financial instability hypothesis, which holds more or less that investment demand is hostage to the varying price of long lived capital assets and shifts in the debt carrying capacity of financial actors. He divides financial techniques as Julius Caesar divided Gaul: there is Hedge Finance, Speculative Finance and Ponzi Finance (guess which is unsustainable). Exactly how this works is largely a matter of faith and of course calculus for the initiated. The important thing to know is that equilibrium is unsustainable, crisis a recurring theme. Those who read the newspapers already know that. Rather than wasting money on this book, those interested should Google 'Financial Instability Hypothesis'. Excellent two page summaries abound.
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