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.