Minsky’s Financial Instability Hypothesis and Modern Economics

Hyman Philip Minsky (b. 23 September 1919, d. 24 October 1996) was best known for his Financial Instability Hypothesis of the business cycle, which emphasized the dynamics of business investment finance as a recurring cause of macroeconomic instability (Minsky 1972, 1980). During a boom, the expansion of debt-financed investment spending causes initial “robust” financial structures to evolve into “fragile” financial

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EME vulnerabilities and the Fed

On 13 September the BIS released its latest Quarterly Review placing emerging market vulnerabilities at centre stage.  On 17 September, the FOMC voted against raising its target policy rate, citing near-term headwinds for the US coming from abroad.  “Recent global economic and financial developments may restrain economic activity somewhat and are likely to put further downward pressure on inflation in

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What does repo do?

The Office of Financial Research is out with a new “Reference Guide to U.S. Repo and Securities Lending Markets” which collects together in one place most of what is known, and draws some attention to how much is not known, about this key bit of monetary infrastructure. Kudos to the authors for treating repo and securities lending in the same

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Turbulent Exit?

In a followup from their much-discussed (by me here) May memo, Pozsar and Sweeney predict “A Turbulent Exit” when the Fed begins to raise rates.  FT Alphaville and Bloomberg both appreciate the importance of the memo, but focus attention on the exchange rate dimension, and so miss the main point.  Let’s walk through the argument more slowly, so as to

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Defending the RMB

It’s hard to short China, but not so hard to short China’s currency, and that’s a problem for the central bank. We’ve all heard about PBOC intervention in the spot exchange market, where the central bank is selling some of its vast horde of USD Treasury securities and buying RMB (thus shrinking its own balance sheet, since RMB are its

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The Fuss about Market Liquidity

The recently released PwC “Global Financial Markets Liquidity Study”, sounds a warning.  Financial regulation, while perhaps well-intentioned, has gone too far.  Banks may be safer but markets are more fragile. At the moment, this fragility is masked by the massive liquidity operations of world central banks.  But it will soon be revealed as, led by the Fed, central banks attempt to exit.

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The World in Depression, a Money View

Does this sound familiar?  Falling commodity prices, unsustainable official debts, crashing stock markets, pullback in global lending by dominant megabanks, misaligned currencies, plus a healthy dose of political dysfunction. These are the ingredients, according to Charles Kindleberger, that made for world depression in 1929-1939.  “My contention is that the difficulty lay in considerable latent instability in the system and the

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Sharp Pencils vs. Sharp Politics: The 2015 Social Security Trustees Report

The long run balance of the U.S. Social Security system has improved, but almost all of the improvement comes from improved methods and data.  That’s the sharp pencil part, explained in Section IV.B.6, pages 74-79, of the recently released 2015 Social Security Trustees Report.  Put another way, Social Security is in better shape than we thought last year not because

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