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

The Jerome Levy Economics Institute WP No. 218

51 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 1998

See all articles by Dimitri B. Papadimitriou

Dimitri B. Papadimitriou

Bard College - Levy Economics Institute

L. Randall Wray

University of Missouri at Kansas City; Bard College - The Levy Economics Institute

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Abstract

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.

JEL Classification: B10

Suggested Citation

Papadimitriou, Dimitri B. and Wray, L. Randall, The Economic Contributions of Hyman Minsky: Varieties of Capitalism and Institutional Reform. The Jerome Levy Economics Institute WP No. 218, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=55218 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.55218

Dimitri B. Papadimitriou

Bard College - Levy Economics Institute ( email )

Blithewood
Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504
United States
845-758 7711 (Phone)
845-758 9424 (Fax)

L. Randall Wray (Contact Author)

University of Missouri at Kansas City ( email )

5100 Rockhill Road
Kansas City, MO 64110-2499
United States

Bard College - The Levy Economics Institute

Blithewood
Annandale-on-Hudson, NY 12504-5000
United States

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