Barkley Rosser says the period after the peak of a speculative bubble can often be broken into two periods, the first characterized by a gradual decline, i.e. a period of "financial distress," and a second where there is a massive panic and crash. He also says he has a model that can explain how this happens, though I trust he will understand if I hope that the second stage prediction of the model does not come true for the present financial crisis, or that a key condition necessary for the second stage to occur fails to be realized (I'm hoping Barkley will have the time to give the intuition behind the transition between stages, and how certain he is that the critical linkages are in place):
Falling from the Period of Financial Distress into the Panic and Crash, by Barkley Rosser: In 1972, Hyman Minsky described the "period of financial distress," in a paper in a journal that no longer exists..., "Financial Instability: The Economics of Disaster." Charles P. Kindleberger picked up on this and followed Minsky's analysis in his famous book, Manias, Panics, and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises, the 4th edn of which appeared in 2000... The period of financial distress is a gradual decline after the peak of a speculative bubble that precedes the final and massive panic and crash, driven by the insiders having exited but the sucker outsiders hanging on hoping for a revivial, but finally giving up in the final collapse. According to Appendix B of Kindleberger's 2000 edition, 37 of the 47 great historical speculative bubbles exhibited such a period before the final crash, even though all the theoretical models predict a crash immediately following the peak with no such period.
In 1991 I published the first mathematical model of such a phenomenon in my book From Catastrophe to Chaos: A General Theory of Economic Discontinuities_(Kluwer, Chap. 5)..., although nobody seems to have noticed... In 1997, I published a paper describing this model (and related matters)... This paper has never been cited. More recently I have coauthored a paper that ...[is] now under a long revise and resubmit, still waiting for an answer ... with Mauro Gallegati and Antonio Palestrini, "The Period of Financial Distress in Speculative Markets: Interacting Heterogeneous Agents and Financial Constraints" (available at my website), that lays all this out in much more up-to-date mathematical modeling.
So, why am I boring all of you with this self-citation? Well, Dean Baker is constantly claiming credit for his forecasts of doom and gloom. It looks like we might be finally reaching the big crash in the US mortgage market after a period of distress that started last August (if not earlier). I and my coauthors are the only people to have provided actually formal models of this phenomenon, beyond the verbal and historical discussions provided by the brilliant Minsky and Kindleberger (both of whom I knew...). I have been forecasting this in unpublished lectures all over the globe for years, but never have put it up into the blogosphere. So, I am claiming credit, to the extent it is due, although the basic ideas were clearly laid out earlier by Minsky and Kindleberger.
I will add one more story. Three years ago I presented an earlier version of the still-unpublished paper with Gallegati and Palestrini in Tokyo at Chuo University. In the middle of the presentation the biggest earthquake in 13 years hit Tokyo, in fact right at the moment I said the word, "crash." Some of the Japanese in the audience blamed me, not entirely humorously, for having caused it.