Rough Contents Overview:
- Varoufakis, a quick profile.
- Global Minotaur book/concept.
- Exchange rates, trade surplus issues and history.
- China, 'Chimerica' & Niall Ferguson, currency wars.
- Greece - historical context, specific precipitating factors.
- IMF's ills.
- Bitcoin and Max Keiser.
- Piketty, inequality and Gates.
He's the finance minister for Greece's latest Government, Syriza - a rainbow coalition of small, 'radical left' leaning parties. I almost wish this political agglomeration would inspire something similar in the UK, to tackle the insurmountable FPTP electoral system. Syriza united behind a popular mandate to begin rolling back half a decade of failed austerity measures, privatisations and restructuring forced upon Greece by the 'Troika'. This triumvirate comprising the IMF, EU and ECB, imposed these conditions in exchange for further, massive, unpayable debts.
continued his blogging despite his new post. We should be so lucky! After graduate and masters studies in the UK, he fled Thatcher's 3rd term for 12 years tenure in an Australian university and a year in Texas. He recently advised Valve on growing their Steam platform globally before being drawn back to Athens and his home land. [Wikipedia-1]
With looks that wouldn't be out of place in a Bond villain, and a mellifluous cadence, he meticulously and gracefully answers any and all questions with carefully selected metaphors and examples. He is a formidable speaker in English, and someone to whom Joseph Stiglitz (Nobel economist and ex World Bank chief) pretty much defers to [New Economic Thinking Video]. In fact, Varoufakis' government position has been described as analogous to Obama appointing the well known Keynesian, Paul Krugman, or the aforementioned, world famous inequality expert, Stigltz [NYtimes via twitter].
With a father who fought on the communist side of Greece's civil war (1946–49) and having set up local (PASOK) youth movement, Yanis describes himself as an 'erratic Marxist' and preaches 'pragmatic egalitarianism'. A term I much like. With contributions to the field of game theory research, and the build of a rugby player, he must truly be an intimidating prospect for the European bureaucrats with whom he has been tasked to negotiate. So its of little surprise that he's had to, cooly and calmly as always, belay the repeated claims from 'leaks' and attacks on him via the (dodgy Greek) press, and distorting, confrontational lens of the international coverage.
The audacious part is that he appears to be out to apply his key macro-economic insights directly to where they could have the biggest, widest reaching beneficial effects on the composition of the entire Eurozone (and beyond)! A step up from the radical academics in fiction: Indiana jones or Tom Mason. I'd go as far as to hold him up besides world super-hero Elon Musk, if he succeeds at all.Rumours of my impending resignation are (for the umpteenth time) grossly premature...— Yanis Varoufakis (@yanisvaroufakis) [Twitter May 31, 2015]
Physicists - Yanis' initial interest in this degree subject, before switching to an economics degree (the lingua franca of political discourse) , leads me to feel an affinity with him and his approach. It was my first degree, which I chose because it seemed seem to contain the most fundamental factors for understanding everything (and for engineering the biggest changes to the universe).
style of "first principles reasoning", "a framework of thinking that would allow understanding counterintuitive elements of reality" [BuinessInsider], that seems obvious to us scientist/engineer types, but seems regarded as a magical secret sauce by standard business types. I've already sung Musk's praises in my hyperloop post.
I hope(d against hope) that the Eurocrats can bring themselves to pay him serious attention, because he's not out to win as much ground for team-Greece as possible. The repayment postponements have been aimed at creating time for constructive dialogue. He's consistently projected far more hopefulness than the prevailing media narrative of political conflict we've heard, which has a perversely myopic focus, seemingly intent on self-fulfilling a doomsday scenario.
He's been penning, and repeatedly revising since 2010, a pragmatic "modest proposal" (with expert co-authors) that would quickly resolve the situation. It uses only existing institutions, without call for fanciful systemic overhaul. Yanis understands the hope and expectations riding on Syriza (and himself), and talk about the opportunity for Europe to "reboot". But has also stated that "we are not interested in imposing our views monolithically on the rest of Europe [Greece] is too tiny and too bankrupt to do that" [at 12:18 in this radio interview].
His ambition is to lay matters bare. Obviously he's been seen by some as rude and too strident, and I'm not sure his core ideas have even been listened to, let alone seriously considered. It feels like it may be a case like a expert employee trying to get their boss, with only qualifications in business management, to understand a fundamental technical limitation or requirement in their business, but the one in charge is blind to any reality beyond their costings spreadsheet. Does not compute and they probably even resent the impudence of their lesser rank knowing more than them. And that's before considering any influence of powerful figures who stand to profit from disaster and failures, via whatever arcane financial mechanisms they've cooked up.
Since starting this piece (several weeks back) a deal has been seeming decreasingly likely [BBC]. It was always going be a last minute compromise, at best, but it does feel increasingly like that may have been unrealistic. Despite haing to work up the details of the exit plan, Yanis is still pushing hard to be heard and save the day (as of 2015-06-19). But with talk of an all out run on their banks this weekend it sounds pretty much like game over [ZeroHedge].
|Edited book cover image (from Yanis' blog).|
This one-sided flow of capital (goods and investment) was so powerful a sink of capitals as to neutralise the effects of national trade surpluses all around the entire world. It maintained a somewhat grim, global stability. This is comparable to the ancient regional stability fostered by the tyranny of feeding King Minos's labyrinthine bound, hybrid monster of Greek legend; a probable mirror of a real historical situation of lavish (human and economic) tributes proffered to Crete, in subordination to its dominance.