The Economic Legacy of Hyman Minsky, Volume I
Edited by Riccardo Bellofiore and Piero Ferri
Chapter 4: H.P. Minsky's reading of the Great Depression
4. H.P. Minsky’s reading of the Great Depression Ester Fano In the late 1930s, the interpretation of the Great Depression had, as of course it still does, a sub-text of policy deﬁnition for the future. In conversation concerning his experiences as an undergraduate at the University of Chicago between 1937 and 1942, Hy Minsky recalled his ﬁrst arrival in the city in June 1937. The train that brought him from New York passed the Inland Steel plant, where only weeks before the state police had shot a number of strikers in the famous Memorial Day massacre (see Minsky, 1985, p. 213). This distressing episode in the political record of the Roosevelt experiment was followed by the 1937–38 recession and the President’s political defeat in the 1938 election. The trials and errors of the New Deal domestic policies were framed by a threatening international environment. Other events – such as Franco’s triumph, the Moscow trials, Hitler’s Kristallnacht, the Stalin–Hitler pact – were the tragic features of a world headed for war, the second in less than a half century. The economic dilemmas of the Great Depression were part of the problem of the feared decline of democracy. And awareness of tragedy was part and parcel of the desire to understand the nature and functioning of the market economy. At Chicago, Minsky found an intellectual climate that was open and critical, ‘a ﬁne place to begin to be an economist’, the economists at the University covered a wide spectrum of thought;...
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