A Minsky moment is the point in a credit cycle or business cycle when investors have cash flow problems due to spiraling debt they have incurred in order to finance speculative investments. At this point, a major selloff begins due to the fact that no counterparty can be found to bid at the high asking prices previously quoted, leading to a sudden and precipitous collapse in market clearing prices and a sharp decline in market liquidity. Anyone thinking subprime mortgages/CDOs/ABS as well? (collateral debt obligations and asset backed securities = CDO & ABS). The Minsky moment comes after a long period of prosperity and increasing values of investments, which has encouraged increasing amounts of speculation using borrowed money.
A Minsky moment is a phenomenon named after economist Hyman Minsky, which describes what happens when an economy simply can't afford its debt anymore.
To put this into current, economic terms:
Lower home and stock prices leads to less consumer spending.
Less consumer spending leads to smaller trade deficits.
Smaller trade deficits lead to less foreign capital inflows.
Less foreign capital inflows lead to higher interest rates. Japan didn't need foreign capital in the 1990s.
Higher interest rates cause property and stock values to plunge.
Plunging values leads to less consumer spending.
Less consumer spending ... haven't we been here before?
Repeat cycle until broke.