Thursday, 7 April 2016

Yanis Varoufakis

Yanis Varoufakis, a new and welcome voice in the European debate, irritates as much as he delights. He is given to catch-phrases and assumptions. Doubtless because he has been asked so often to repeat his analysis of the economic and political problems facing Europe, he has come to assume that his metaphors are widely understood; and his analysis correct.

The ‘Troika’ (to him) means the three economic power centres affecting Greek debt: [1] The European Commission, [2] the International Monetary Fund, and [3] the European Central Bank. The ‘Minotaur’ is the devouring ‘black hole’ in the north of Europe that feeds on tribute from the poor countries of the south; a chimera with the rigorous body of a German but the unforgiving head of a Frenchman.   ‘Recycling’ means something like achieving a balance of payments; you borrow our money so you can buy our goods. 

Among his assumptions is that Germany caused Greek debt by forcing its expensive goods on the defenceless Greek people, failing (presumably) to buy sufficient olives in exchange, so letting in the beastly bankers with their insidious loans. 

It is clear that, by the time Yanis Varoufakis became Minister of Finance, Greece was in a hole from which there was no easy way out. The lenders were not willing to forgive debt. Cutting state spending predictably caused recession and unemployment which reached 26% (higher among young people). There seemed a real danger of fascist extremism taking root. It must have been very galling to find oneself in a negotiation against opponents who held all the trumps. Yanis Varoufakis resigned as Minister of Finance on 6th July 2015.

We wait, in a state of tense expectancy, as negotiations continue.

Cawstein, 
Middleton Cheney, Northamptonshire,  OX17 2NB

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