Please Keep Kickstarting Minsky

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The Kickstarter campaign to fund further development of Minsky has hit its minimum target of $50,000, which is great.

Kickstarter Funding Profile as at March 1st

Kickstarter Funding Profile as at March 1st

Visitors from Debtwatch have been the most prolific pledgers as well–though direct donors and “Twitterers” have been the most generous in the aggregate, and Open Source fans from within the Kickstarter community have been the most generous on a per capita basis:

Kickstarter Pledgers Profile March 1st--the top 5

Kickstarter Pledgers Profile March 1st–the top 5

This much finance will let us complete the “Petty” release of Minsky (we’re naming each release after a prominent historical economist, starting way back with Aristotle–the current release is named after St Thomas Aquinas), which will basically finesse the current Aquinas release: substantial improvements to the appearance of Plots; adding numerical displays to the canvas; coordinating multiple Godley tables so that what is an Asset in one must be shown as a Liability in any other; exporting results (both numerical and symbolic), and so on. We’ll also be able to finish the Web-browser version (which Nathan and Kevin helped code a foundation for as a final year project at UWS).

But there’s much more to be done. The next transformational release is the Quesnay version, which will transform the program from a “scalar” system–in which entities like GDP, Labor and so on are single numbers–to a “vector” system in which GDP can be broken down into any desired level of detail (from a simple classification like “Consumer Goods”, “Capital Goods”, “Agriculture”, “Energy” to a full input-output model with numerous sectors, like the 67-sector table published by the BEA for the US economy).

We know it can be done because I’ve already done it in Mathcad and (with the programming assistance of Dr Mike Honeychurch) Mathematica. Doing it in Minsky will be a major step in taking the program from a very useful conceptual tool towards a system that I hope can one day do for economics what Lorenz’s work did for meteorology.

Multisectoral limit cycle from 4 sector model developed in Mathcad

Multisectoral limit cycle from 4 sector model developed in Mathcad

Russell and I estimate that it will take of the order of 2,500 more hours of programming time to do that–for a cost of roughly $250,000. So every extra pledge from now on till March 18, when the campaign ends, will help us get closer to that goal.

Please make a pledge if you haven’t already done so; consider increasing your pledge if you have already backed us; and let your network know of the campaign and encourage them to help out and also spread the word.

It is amazing what can be achieved by this method. I had personally backed one project–LiveCode, an English language approach to programming that evolved from the brilliant but no longer active Apple Hypercard program. LiveCode already exists as a commercial program, produced by RunRev in Edinburgh; its Kickstarter campaign was attempting to raise $500,000 to produce an Open Source version.

With less than week to go, they only had about 75% of the funding they needed–and in Kickstarter’s all-or-nothing funding model, they looked like they were going to get nothing. So I upped my pledge from $35 to $500–hoping to help push them over the edge, though I doubted they’d make it.

Then, in the next six days, they raised another $400,000. Not only did they reach their target, they blasted through it.

I hope that something like that is possible with Minsky. We know we’re going to get funded; now please help make that funding sufficient to let us produce a program that can transform economics. Kickstart Minsky today!

About Steve Keen

I am Professor of Economics and Head of Economics, History and Politics at Kingston University London, and a long time critic of conventional economic thought. As well as attacking mainstream thought in Debunking Economics, I am also developing an alternative dynamic approach to economic modelling. The key issue I am tackling here is the prospect for a debt-deflation on the back of the enormous private debts accumulated globally, and our very low rate of inflation.
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10 Responses to Please Keep Kickstarting Minsky

  1. Pingback: Please Keep Kickstarting Minsky | Fifth Estate

  2. tcgibian says:

    My son has contributed to several Kickstarter projects, and from his observations the pace of contributions starts out brisk, levels off in the middle of the pledge period, and then jumps up toward the end. Let us hope for the same for Minsky.

  3. Steve Keen says:

    Let’s hope so! I’ll try some other avenues to promote it to in the last two weeks.

  4. TruthIsThereIsNoTruth says:

    Can Minsky model the funding dynamic for itself?

  5. Endless says:

    Nice one TITINT,

    A complete absence of debt…

  6. TruthIsThereIsNoTruth says:

    Sure stability is destabilising, it’s a good proposition with a good underlying model. What’s interesting is that we implictly and without really thinking assume that instablity is a bad thing. What I am saying is not meant to take away from the proposition or model, which can well be true. There is a question though why we consider instability to be bad, what exactly is the proposition, how doe we measure bad from good, this question should inspire some deeper thinking.

    On my part, without knowing the answer, I can say that certain biological systems need instability to evolve. We could say that without instability we would not exist.

    How do you define stability? Is it measured by a stable GDP? What’s GDP? One could argue is that it is a number representing the pace of planetary exploitation, at least in our current mode of production, which is overwhelmed by unsustainability. Maybe we need instability to shake the system up a bit?

  7. Steve Keen says:

    I have never argued that instability is a bad thing TININT: instability leading to breakdown is, but not instability itself. That’s one reason I love the outcome of my Minsky with Government model which generates never-ending cycles, but not breakdown.

  8. Lyonwiss says:

    @ TruthIsThereIsNoTruth March 4, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    Economists talk nonsense, in the sense of abuse language, including Minsky. The phrase “stability is destabilising” is an oxymoron for dramatic effect only. Stability is stable, period.

    Minsky was not talking about the stability concept generally. He was talking specifically about the credit market. After a prolong period of high interest rates, only credit-worthy borrowers remain and credit default rates drop to near zero, the credit market is calm and stable. Of course, this provides the signal for market to lower risk premium leading to low interest rates. Low rates lead to excessive debt and then rising credit default rates destabilizing the market.

    Incidentally, this theory of credit driven booms and busts by Minsky is not fundamentally different from the Austrian business cycle theory of von Mises. Instability in the sense of an economic bust is obviously a bad thing, because of the loss of production and human suffering, even if it may be necessary for creative destruction.

  9. TruthIsThereIsNoTruth says:

    Where do you draw the line between instability and breakdown? I suppose with a model that’s easy to define. A breakdown ends the cycle, the system implodes. But this is a theoretical reference point based on a particular model. My prefence is to allow freedom of thought from theoretical reference points.

    Then you can ask the harder questions, where do you draw the line between instability and breakdown in reality? Human society continues to expand and evolve, have we ever really had a breakdown, as defined by a model, or are we just expieriencing instability? It becomes pure subjective judgement and then you might conclude that it is arbirtary and irrelevant.

    Another question is, what are you measuring to be stable in your model? What is GDP? At what point does the comfort of the individual outweigh the sustainability of achieving this comfort, from a social good perspective? So really what are we trying to achieve by making economic variables more stable? Are we trying to prevent breakdown, as you suggest? Then define breakdown, not in the model, in reality. For every known assumption made to bridge the gap between model and reality how many unknown assumptions are there?

  10. TruthIsThereIsNoTruth says:

    LW – I think it’s a good slogan, it captures what the model is about and makes you curious about it. I think the dramatic effect is the 19th century banker with the bag of money. That’s a play on the antibank sentiment, whose teat parts of the media are also attached to. It’s all marketing and why not. I think it’s beautiful, global society allocated 50k+ and hopefully more to a project that has good ambitions.

    If a molecular fraction of the money spent trying to exploit the system was spent on trying to understand it, Steve would have his full blown version of Minsky. I for one would have loved a class where I get to build a dynamic model of the economy. I think from the educational point of view it has huge potential. Not a big fan of extrapolatory conclusions from the model, but that’s just me.

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