Steve Keen over Hyman Minsky
Steve Keen is a professor in economics and finance at the University of Western Sydney. He classes himself as a post-Keynesian, criticizing neoclassical economics as inconsistent, unscientific and empirically unsupported. The major influences on Keen’s thinking about economics include John Maynard Keynes, Hyman Minsky, Piero Sraffa, Joseph Alois Schumpeter, and François Quesnay. He also gives credit to Marx for contributing to the “financial instability hypothesis” of Hyman Minsky. His recent work mostly concentrates on mathematical modeling and simulation of financial instability. He is a Fellow at the Centre for Policy Development.
Financial instability and debt deflation
Most of Steve Keen’s recent work focuses on modeling Hyman Minsky’s financial instability hypothesis and Irving Fisher’s debt deflation. The hypothesis predicts that an overly large debt to GDP ratio can cause deflation and depression. Here, the falling of the price level results in a continually rising real quantity of outstanding debt. Moreover, the continued deleveraging of outstanding debts increases the rate of deflation. Thus, debt and deflation act on and react to one another, resulting in a debt-deflation spiral. The outcome is a depression. Steve Keen argues that the current global economic crisis is the result of too much debt.
Keen’s full-range critique of neoclassical economics is contained in his book Debunking Economics. Keen presents a wide variety of critiques on neoclassical economic theory, and argues that they show neoclassical assumptions are fundamentally flawed. Keen points out that several neoclassical assumptions are empirically unsupported (that is, they are unsupported by observable and repeatable phenomena) nor are they desirable for society at large (that is, they do not necessarily produce either efficiency or equity for the majority). He argues that economists’ overall conclusions are very sensitive to small changes in these assumptions.
Keen’s book closes with a survey of various schools of heterodox economics, concluding “None of these is at present strong enough or complete enough to declare itself a contender for the title of ‘the’ economic theory of the 21st century.” However, he argues that neoclassical economics is a degenerative research program, not generating new knowledge but growing a belt of protective auxiliary hypotheses to shield its core beliefs from critique. There is an accompanying web site which provides more detailed mathematical expositions.
Eurocrisis Steve Keen