Defining and detecting financial fragility: New Zealand's experience
Purpose – The purpose of this study is to investigate why “financial fragility” carries different definitions in the economic literature. This is a useful task as the detection of “financial fragility” depends, in part, upon how one defines it. According to Post Keynesian economists, financial fragility is a process that can culminate in financial instability (an event). For mainstream or New Keynesian economists, financial fragility has been traditionally defined as a state in which a shock can trigger instability. More recently, however, mainstream economists have recast their definition as a particular form of financial instability – an event. Each definition of financial fragility is intimately linked to the theoretical foundation upon which it rests. This carries important implications for the ability of policymakers to assess and manage the health of an economy. Design/methodology/approach – The different approaches to the definition and detection of financial fragility are compared using corresponding sets of indicators. Indicators for the Post Keynesian approach are derived from a simple cash-flow accounting framework, in the spirit of Hyman Minsky. The economy selected for study is New Zealand. Findings – According to the Post Keynesian approach, New Zealand has been in a financially fragile state for over three years, a period during which policymakers could have been creating ways to make New Zealand more resilient to the onset of instability. According to the New Keynesian approach, New Zealand may just now be experiencing fragility, giving policymakers much less time to react. Originality/value – This study traces the definitions of financial fragility to their underlying theoretical frameworks and draws the implications for the methods of detecting financial fragility
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