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Archive for October 2008

Minsky’s moment: He gets props for describing bubble

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hyman-minskySPRINGFIELD, Ill. (Oct. 27) — Hyman P. Minsky died in 1996, but today the Chicago-born economist is getting credit for anticipating the current financial crisis. To be precise, Minsky’s “financial instability hypothesis,” refined in the ’70s, describes how bubbles form in capitalist economies, with potentially disastrous consequences.

For most of his career, Minsky taught economics at Washington University in St. Louis; when he retired in 1990, he joined the Jerome Levy Economics Institute of Bard College as a distinguished scholar.

Minsky’s financial-instability model has three stages.

At first, investors only borrow what they can repay based on anticipated cash flows. Then, as asset prices rise, they start to speculate, expecting to be able to refinance. By the third stage, optimism turns to recklessness, and borrowers engage in what Minsky called “Ponzi borrowing” — unable to pay either principal or interest, they gamble that ever-climbing asset prices will allow them to keep refinancing. Debts pile up faster than they can handle, and collapse becomes inevitable. Read the rest of this entry »

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October 27, 2008 at 11:29 pm

The bottom line: Business news staffing takes a hit

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ST. LOUIS (Oct. 3) — Even before the St. Louis Post-Dispatch announced its latest round of layoffs, on Sept. 26, the paper’s business news team was down by about one third this year due to a steady exodus of experienced editors and reporters.

Given the broad reach of the national financial meltdown, the loss of talent couldn’t have come at a worse time, but the Post isn’t the only major newspaper that’s been caught short-handed. In newsrooms across the country, business news departments have become major casualties of the industry’s declining fortunes.

Still, what’s happening at the Post seems unusual, given a sudden spate of resignations — and it doesn’t bode well for the remaining staff, which is forced to redouble its efforts during what is, essentially, a time of crisis. Read the rest of this entry »

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October 8, 2008 at 7:02 am

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