The Cork Board

Ride Book…. Now I get it …..

First book of the ride done so here it is, and quite a book too……
Please, let me bring to your attention a superb book. I don’t use “superb” very often, so in the heiracrchy of superlatives count it in. ” And the weak suffer what they must” by Yanis Varoufakis is a detailed summary and analysis of the global,and primarily, European economic structure,the machinations since WW2, and the inter-relationships between European and American actions on the economic world stage.

Yes, machinations. And if you think that it is dry…. reflect on the world’s fascination for “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “The Big Short “.

YV is, you will recall,the Greek Finance Minister who was forced to resign after he became the force to be reckoned with when renegotiating the Greek debt relief package with Euro-ministers.

Not turning you on yet? 

I summise what happened here, if I may paint a picture… YV turned up on his Harley, looked his inquisitors in the eye and said, ” I know what you are doing.” His inquisitors, somewhat taken aback by the Greek Hics knowledge, were not happy.

Okay,so you have to concentrate. It’s economics. But believe me, within the first 50 pages or so, you’ll get it, and then just gawp at what follows, be intrigued by the twists and turns, rail against the bullies, gasp at the audacity of bringing down governments. This is not fiction – this is history – analysed and laid bare.

The writing is lucid, as you would expect,and has a clarity that the common man, if there is one, can follow.

YV is a Socialist ( The Guardian have him down as “hard left”, but I wouldn’t go that far) but this is no leftish diatribe. This is clear analysis, and he even has praise for that scourge of the left, Margaret Thatcher. In economic terms, at least. She knew what was going on.

YV’s acknowledged principle is that imbalances occur by nature and as a consequence, to coin a phrase, one man’s meat is another man’s poison, or, as the economists would have it, for every nation’s surplus there is another nation’s deficit. 

This is a fast paced but challenging read. You are going to learn something, that is, if like me, economics is not your strongest suit. Having said that, I suspect not many of us would have this breadth of knowledge, so I would imagine we’re all going to learn something by reading it.

YV lightens the tone with illuminating metaphors, invoking even, Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” at one point. If political dramas have become “de riguer” as the new highpoint in entertainment,then here are the real characters and the inside story. 

Drawing upon the Bretton Woods system ( a system of recycling surpluses to deficit burdened economies) introduced by the US after WW2 in order to stabilise a world economy in tatters, he points to what became known as the Nixon Shock when in 1971 Tricky Dicky sent his finance man to tell European leades that their economies were to be cut lose from being tied to the value of the dollar, which itself was tied to the value of gold.

This, apparently is where the trouble began. This is where a Europe overseen by economic beaurocrats was born. Sadly, it seems, by people who threw out the principle of the Bretton Woods system and started their own. 

And so, gasp, as you see the rise of the Bundesbank. Recoil as they bring down a German government. Smirk at the audacity of Charles De Gaulle. Wonder at yourself as you find sympathy with Lord Lamont and the dance around Black Wednesday. “Game of Thrones” ? Try Germany and France.

There are some new insights to old familiar characters and a back story to it all that places everything into context alluding to the situations affecting Ireland,Spain and Italy as well as Greece.

He doesn’t spend much time on his tenure as Greek Finance Minister. That’s another story, apparently. But I pull a chilling extract from one of his early exchanges, after the election to the Greek Parliament of Golden Dawn members. YV is the new kid on the block….

*” When I return home tonight, I shall find myself in a parliament in which the third-largest pary is a Nazi one,” I told Wolfgang Schäuble, in front of the gathered press, in my first visit to the German ministry of finance back in February 2015. It was a plea for joint action. He, and the press, took it as posturing.”*

And on the back of another Greek bailout, thankfully I’m not in the UK to hear the Beeb pull it to pieces, you just might see things in a different light after reading this book.

And would YV vote to stay in Europe? Yes, he would, because he believes that a unified Europe for the people, not the beaurocrats is worth fighting for, and I for one, hope that his ideas are given a proper platform.

Give it a read. Believe me, it will be time well spent.

9 thoughts on “Ride Book…. Now I get it …..”

  1. Thanks for recommending this. YV probably will (or was and I missed it) be interviewed on MSNBC. I’m going to look for that and his book. I feel compelled to at least try to read it because I’d bet that Elizabeth Warren already has, and that Donald Trump would have no respect for it.

    1. It’s a very informative book, Ré, but some of it will probably make you angry, as it did me. How some of these people have the nerve to do what they do without any thought for the fallout is beyond me. I wonder if they feel the same things as normal human beings sometimes.
      The European economic structure is at fault, and the US are right to be worried at what is being done to Greece.
      And I haven’t even covered what Paul Volcker did. Anyway, you will see things in a new light. I do hope you enjoy it as a learning experience at least.

  2. Most people would go for a light read on a Spanish vuelta. Only you would choose economics.

    If being in Europe doesn’t personally affect people economically they will vote for the status quo. But there are no ideals in the EU. That is naive at the best.

    1. Haha,yes,I’d been looking to make time to read this and I thought my solo jaunt would give me a good opportunity. I like to understand the historical context to how we have got to where we are, and of course, some of the inside dirt. It’s only then can you see why some people do what they do.
      People always vote with selfish interests at heart. I just wish the people weren’t lied to so much. The current debate in the UK is a joke of the highest order.

      1. Calling it a debate is a joke 😦

        Apart from any personal opinions, I have reached the age where I think: the government recommends it? Got to be bad.

        I did see something interesting about Norway. You’ll remember they were in for it along with us, Denmark and Ireland. They were told their economy would be shot, unemployment, no imports, no trade, blah blah, and where is Norway? Any problems because they aren’t in the EU? Look at Switzerland. They’ve never even considered it as far as I recall. Any financial problems?

      2. Yes,you are right. I’m cautious of comparing the UK situation with other countries though. We have such a class-based system where the ruling classes are still chewing away at ordinary worker’s rights (union legislation/ unfair dismissal rights/ strike legislation etc) I sometimes think that if we have to be in Europe to protect them then so be it.

      3. That will explain the high unemployment rates in Europe then Al? The only thing that protects workers rights (and I’m speaking as a former union official married to another one) is a closed shop and set criteria. OK so closed shops won’t happen, but whilever there is a willing influx of cheap labour driving down the rates, nothing, but nothing protects any workers’ rights. Totally agree with the UK capitalist system, but – why do you think Europe is different?

      4. I’m not saying that Europe has it right. I am thinking that we have a better chance of improving all workers rights, and employment prospects, if there is a coherent leftist strategy to challenge the capitalist system that inefficiently permeates Europe. I am no economist ( see above) but any idiot could see that smacking down Greece and insisting upon 3.5% growth per annum was madness, and frankly, vindictive. Not even the “successful” economies manage that.The UK is bumbling along around 1% I believe.
        But in a world where everyone is preaching division I think we should be part of it to change it.

      5. But the EU IS totally capitalist. That is the issue. This is the organisation that approves the bank bail outs and the subsequent ‘austerity measures’ cutting public services, I can certainly speak for Spain there, to repay the bank funding. Let alone Greece.

        You think this is an organisation that is going to help the working classes? It has done stuff all for them so far. Or rather, stuff all for us, and the people we know in Spain and Gibraltar. Not cosy little middle class households with a regular income whether wage or pension. People who have no income without jobs.

        The EU is like the European version of the USA. Or like the reorganisation of councils/boundaries in 1974 when everything became centralised and local powers were stripped. Remember that?

        None of these empires support workers’ rights or collectivism or the abolition of classism. It is NOT in their interest. Now, if you want a political discussion Al …

        Not for tonight though, tomorrow you have to cycle and I have paperwork. Buenas noches. Duérmete bien 💤

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