The Financial Instability Hypothesis
The first theorem of the financial instability hypothesis is that the economy has financing regimes under which it is stable, and financing regimes in which it is unstable. The second theorem of the financial instability hypothesis is that over periods of prolonged prosperity, the economy transits from financial relations that make for a stable system to financial relations that make for an unstable system. In particular, over a protracted period of good times, capitalist economies tend to move from a financial structure dominated by hedge finance units to a structure in which there is large weight to units engaged in speculative and Ponzi finance.
Hedge financing units are those which can fulfill all of their contractual payment obligations by their cash flows… Speculative finance units are units that can meet their payment commitments on “income account” on their liabilities, even as they cannot repay the principal out of income cash flows… For Ponzi units, the cash flows from operations are not sufficient to fulfill either the repayment of principal or the interest due on outstanding debts by their cash flows from operations.
- Hyman Minsky