Financial Keynesianism and Market Instability

Financial Keynesianism and Market Instability

The Economic Legacy of Hyman Minsky, Volume I

Edited by Riccardo Bellofiore and Piero Ferri

During his lifetime Hyman Minsky made a seminal contribution to the development of financial Keynesianism. In this book, leading academics celebrate his work and explore his economic legacy. Special attention is paid to his work on contemporary economic method, the Great Depression, the European single currency and the global financial system and recent banking and financial crises – in particular the crisis in Asia. An attempt is made to categorise Minsky’s brand of post Keynesianism and to compare his work with the Keynesian and Marxian traditions.

Chapter 3: Hyman Minsky and the dilemmas of contemporary economic method

Duncan K. Foley

Subjects: economics and finance, economic psychology, financial economics and regulation, history of economic thought, post-keynesian economics


Duncan K. Foley INTRODUCTION Hyman Minsky’s work on financial fragility and the political economy of instability in advanced capitalist economies has had more influence in the policy-making and financial communities than among academic economists. This fate of Minsky’s thought raises some basic questions about contemporary economic methodology, particularly the relations between economic theory, mathematical models and statistical estimation. Minsky, in pursuing seriously the project of understanding the dynamics of contemporary capitalist society, ran into fundamental limitations of contemporary economic modelling technique. Given Minsky’s strong quantitative training and the nature of his early work in economics, his refusal, often remarked upon, to develop a rigorous mathematical model to express his ideas about financial instability is a sharp reminder of the limits of our current methods. The fertility of Minsky’s insights and the resonance they met in the practical worlds of finance and policy-making suggest that the examination of Minsky’s work offers a valuable critical perspective on modern economic method. Minsky himself was aware of these dilemmas, and refers to them from time to time in explicating his ideas (for example, Minsky, 1989), but never, I think, systematically addressed the methodological crisis inherent in his work; nor did he put forward an explicit methodological alternative. Contemporary economics is a distinctive branch of statistical social science. Statistical social science, in turn, is an attempt to adapt the methods of experimental and observational physical sciences to the analysis of data generated in the course of human social interactions. Both the general attempt to...

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