Bank of Finland Research Discussion Papers 11/2014
This paper operationalizes early theoretical contributions of Hyman Minsky and applies these in the context of economic sectors and nations. Following the view of boom-bust asset cycles, depicted by the endogenous build-up of risks and their abrupt unraveling, Minsky highlighted the relationship between debt obligations and cash flows. While leverage is oftentimes linked to the vulnerability of a nation, and hence systemic risk, one less explored measure of leverage is the debt-to-cash flow ratio (Debt/CF). Cash flows certainly have a well-known, academically verified connection to the ability of corporations to service and repay corporate debt. This paper investigates whether the relationship between the flow of a nation's savings to its stock of total debt provides a means for understanding systemic risks. For a panel of 33 nations, we explore historic Debt/CF trends, as well as apply the same procedure to individual economic sectors. This assessment of systemic risk is arranged for presentation within a four-zone framework. In terms of an early-warning indicator, we show that the Debt/CF ratio e effectively stratifies systemic risks, and offers a useful platform toward macro-financial sustainability.