The Kindleberger-Aliber-Minsky paradigm and the global subprime mortgage meltdown

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose: This paper sets out to analyze the current global financial crisis that originated in the US subprime mortgage market through the lens of the Kindleberger-Aliber-Minsky (KAM) paradigm as set forth in Kindleberger and Aliber's Manias, Panics and Crashes, to first examine the bubble's origins in the displacement caused by the internet collapse, the subsequent US recession, and the aggressive lowering of US interest rates. It shows how these events, combined with other technological and regulatory factors, resulted in a US housing bubble fueled by the aggressive securitization of mortgages by many large financial institutions, a reduction in their credit standards, and a lack of regulatory oversight. In this way it assesses the prime players in the process in terms of motivation and performance. Design/methodology/approach: The paper explores how the process peaked and began to unravel as cash flows at the base of the financial pyramid built through securitization slowed. Once the supporting cash flow came under pressure and was questioned, several major players went bankrupt or took tremendous losses. It became apparent that risk and innovation had been improperly balanced, a prime characteristic of the KAM paradigm. Indeed, greed, innovation, and technology had combined to substantially reduce credit quality and increase leverage, vastly expanding the likelihood of a liquidity crisis and a substantial drop in the value of asset-backed securities. Findings: The analysis then examines why this effect had significant global dimensions, unlike, for example, the Japanese real estate and stock market collapse or the US internet boom and bust. The analysis also shows how market reactions have been in line with what might be expected under the KAM paradigm. It also conforms with what Robert Shiller and Edward Gramlich anticipated and with normal bank behavior in a credit crisis. Originality/value: The paper assesses the policy responses to the crisis and their likely success under a KAM paradigm analysis. The proposed remedies already include the aggressive fiscal and lender of last resort monetary responses typical of the KAM paradigm but regulatory measures too. Further, as KAM notes, almost all booms and crashes involve scandals and scams. So not surprisingly there has been growing recourse to the courts seeking criminal and civil remedies. Also typical of such a dramatic boom and bust, governments are examining regulatory and legislative actions to address the current difficult economic and credit situation and to make sure that similar things do not occur in the future. But politics and a US presidential election are driving significant differences in approach. Under these circumstances what can the lens of the KAM paradigm tell us about the actions taken or proposed and what is or is not likely to work?

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-93
Number of pages9
JournalCritical Perspectives on International Business
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Apr 10 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)


  • Economic booms
  • Financial markets
  • Mortgage default
  • Recession
  • United States of America


Dive into the research topics of 'The Kindleberger-Aliber-Minsky paradigm and the global subprime mortgage meltdown'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this