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Debt cycles, instability and fiscal rules: A Godley-Minsky model

Dafermos, Yannis

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Wynne Godley and Hyman Minsky were two macroeconomists who ‘saw the crisis coming’. This paper develops a simple macrodynamic model that synthesises some key perspectives of their analytical frameworks. The model incorporates Godley’s financial balances approach and postulates that private sector’s propensity to spend is driven by a stock-flow norm (the target net private debt-to-income ratio) that changes endogenously via a Minsky mechanism. It also includes two fiscal rules: a Maastricht-type fiscal rule, according to which the fiscal authorities adjust the government expenditures based on a target net government debt ratio; and a Godley-Minsky fiscal rule, which links government expenditures with private indebtedness following a counter-cyclical logic. The analysis shows that (i) the interaction between the propensity to spend and net private indebtedness can generate cycles and instability; (ii) instability is more likely when the propensity to spend responds strongly to deviations from the stock-flow norm and when the expectations that determine the stock-flow norm are highly sensitive to the economic cycle; (iii) the Maastricht-type fiscal rule is destabilising while the Godley-Minsky fiscal rule is stabilising; and (iv) the paradox of debt can apply both to the private sector and to the government sector.


Dafermos, Y. (2015). Debt cycles, instability and fiscal rules: A Godley-Minsky model. Bristol

Publication Date Sep 9, 2015
Deposit Date Sep 9, 2015
Publicly Available Date Jun 17, 2016
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords Godley, Minsky, debt cycles, instability, fiscal rules
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