A Minsky moment is a sudden major collapse of asset values which is part of the credit cycle or business cycle. Such moments occur because long periods of prosperity and increasing value of investments lead to increasing speculation using borrowed money. The spiraling debt incurred in financing speculative investments leads to cash flow problems for investors. The cash generated by their assets no longer is sufficient to pay off the debt they took on to acquire them. Losses on such speculative assets prompt lenders to call in their loans. This is likely to lead to a collapse of asset values. Meanwhile, the over-indebted investors are forced to sell even their less-speculative positions to make good on their loans. However, at this point no counterparty can be found to bid at the high asking prices previously quoted. This starts a major sell-off, leading to a sudden and precipitous collapse in market-clearing asset prices, a sharp drop in market liquidity, and a severe demand for cash.
The term was coined by Paul McCulley of PIMCO in 1998, to describe the 1998 Russian financial crisis, and was named after economist Hyman Minsky. The Minsky moment comes after a long period of prosperity and increasing values of investments, which has encouraged increasing amounts of speculation using borrowed money.
Some, such as McCulley, have dated the start of the financial crisis of 2007–2010 to a Minsky moment, and called the following crisis a "reverse Minsky journey"; McCulley dates the moment to August 2007, while others date the start to some months earlier or later, such as the June 2007 failure of two Bear Stearns funds.
- In praise of ... Hyman Minsky, The Guardian, 22 August 2007
- Lahart, Justin (2007-08-18), "In Time of Tumult, Obscure Economist Gains Currency", The Wall Street Journal Unknown parameter
- Global Central Bank Focus, by Paul McCulley
- Prychitko, David L. (2009), "Competing explanations of the Minsky moment: The financial instability hypothesis in light of Austrian theory", The Review of Austrian Economics 32 (3): 199, doi:10.1007/s11138-009-0097-1.,
- King, J.E. "Post Keynesian economics." The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics. Second Edition. Eds. Steven N. Durlauf and Lawrence E. Blume. Palgrave Macmillan, 2008. The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics Online. Palgrave Macmillan. 6 October 2011 <http://www.dictionaryofeconomics.com/article?id=pde2008_P000135> doi:10.1057/9780230226203.1314
Further reading 
- What's a Minsky moment? – Seattle Post-Intelligencer
- Housing Minsky moment – Doctor Housing Bubble
- Have we reached a Minsky moment? – MoneyWeek
- The Minsky Moment, by John Cassidy – The New Yorker
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