The Nation, 17 November 2008

This issue includes a note by Robert Pollin about the late economist Hyman Minsky, noting a recent vogue for Minsky and praising him as “his generation’s most insightful analyst of financial markets and the causes of financial crises.”   So he may have been, but Pollin doesn’t show why.  I suspect he would have needed more space to do that.  For example, Pollin writes that for Minsky, “financial crises and recessions actually serve a purpose in the operations of a free-market economy… Minsky’s point is that without crises, a free-market economy has no way of discouraging investors’ natural proclivities towards ever greater risks in pursuit of ever higher profits.”  Minsky may have had original ideas on this point, but this statement doesn’t bring them out- what Pollin has given as “Minsky’s point” is precisely the Austrian economists’ theory of malinvestment.  Indeed, what Pollin presents as “another of Minsky’s major insights- that in the absence of a complimentary regulatory system, the effectiveness of bailouts will diminish over time”- is a statement of another aspect of the Austrian theory of malinvestment, that regulation and subsidy imply one another.  I’m willing to believe that Minsky had original insights.  Perhaps Pollin made it clear how Minsky advanced on the work of Hayek & co. in the article he submitted and the Nation‘s editors cut the key parts for space.  What sticks in my mind is Pollin’s closing quote from Minsky’s 1986 book Stabilizing an Unstable Economy,  “Only an economics that is critical of capitalism can be a guide to successful policy for capitalism.”

Ange Mlinko reviews Susan Stewart’s poetry collection, Red Rover, praising the humanity of Stewart’s dirge for the Amish girls killed in the October 2006 massacre at their schoolhouse near Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the austere simplicity of her nature poems, and her commitment to slowness.  Mlinko quotes from Sterwart’s poem “The Forest”; Stewart posted “The Forest” in full at the Academy of American Poets website, and it’s worth reading a few times.

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2 Comments

  1. cymast

     /  November 19, 2008

    “The Forest” is good, though I would omit the first 4 stanzas.

  2. acilius

     /  November 19, 2008

    I like the repetitions, I think it gathers force as it goes along.

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