Yanis Varoufakis

by on January 27, 2015 at 6:46 pm in Current Affairs, Economics, Uncategorized | Permalink

He is an economist, taught last year at UT Austin, and is now the new finance minister of Greece.  You can find him here on scholar.google.com.  And here is his 2011 proposal for overcoming the euro crisis, another version of that here (pdf).  Here is his blog post on the Scottish Enlightenment.  Previously he was working as an economist for Valve, a video game company.  Here is Yanis on EconTalk with Russ Roberts.  The discussion of Greece and the eurozone starts at about 48:22.

His blog is here, he claims he will continue blogging:

The time to put up or shut up has, I have been told, arrived. My plan is to defy such advice. To continue blogging here even though it is normally considered irresponsible for a Finance Minister to indulge in such crass forms of communication. Naturally, my blog posts will become more infrequent and shorter. But I do hope they compensate with juicier views, comments and insights.

Here is a good Telegraph profile of the man.  Here is his Wikipedia page, and here is one excerpt:

In 2005/6, Varoufakis travelled extensively with artist Danae Stratou along seven dividing lines around the world (in Palestine, Ethiopia-Eritrea, Kosovo, Belfast, Cyprus, Kashmir and the US-Mexico border). Stratou produced the installation CUT: 7 dividing lines, while Varoufakis wrote texts that then became a political-economic account of these divisions, entitled The Globalising Wall. In 2010 Stratou and Varoufakis founded the project Vital Space.

Stay tuned, this will be fun.

1 WC Varones January 27, 2015 at 7:20 pm

I love the smell of strategic default in the morning!

2 Ray Lopez January 28, 2015 at 1:00 am

Smells like victory! (long term)

3 Rahul January 28, 2015 at 1:10 am

It’s about time.

4 FC January 27, 2015 at 7:45 pm

WTF is an “Ethiopia-Eritrea”? I also like the refusal to admit that the state of Israel exists.

5 FC January 27, 2015 at 7:47 pm

Meanwhile, back on topic, Varoufakis did an interesting Econtalk episode a couple of years ago: http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2013/02/varoufakis_on_v.html

6 arthropod January 27, 2015 at 7:56 pm

Well, it says he is studying dividing lines, so I imagine he is studying the dividing line between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Perhaps he studied the lines between Jewish settlements and Palestinian-controlled territory in the West Bank? That would explain the use of “Palestine”.

7 Evan Harper January 28, 2015 at 12:23 am

Sorry, where is the refusal to admit that the state of Israel exists?

8 Gopchik January 28, 2015 at 1:23 pm

I think the dividing lines between CZ and SVK, the old one between the Germanies, and US Canada would have fleshed out his report greatly.

9 Tom Warner January 27, 2015 at 7:51 pm

He’s also by the way a big supporter of default without leaving the euro.

Krugman seems to have led a lot of people to believe that Greece is running a 4.5% of GDP primary surplus. The primary surplus in 2014 was actually just 1.87b euros, or 1.05% of 4q13-3q14 GDP: http://www.minfin.gr/sites/default/files/financial_files/BULLETIN_12_2014.pdf

At the same time EU funds received came to 4.65b euros. I didn’t see any figure for how much Greece paid as its share of the EU budget. But looks to me like default would be cash-flow negative.

Besides, a default would mean not being able to roll over Greek government debts to Greeks as they come due into multi-decade near-zero-rate debt to the EU.

10 Tom Warner January 27, 2015 at 7:59 pm

Ah, I see it now on the last page, payments to the EU in 2014 were 2b euros. So hard to see how Greece gets any cash-flow advantage by defaulting, unless the EU continues to send them grant money while they’re in default.

11 WC Varones January 27, 2015 at 9:13 pm

It’s not about the short-term cash flow. It’s about liberating Greece from a crushing long-term debt burden.

Jubilee!

12 dan1111 January 28, 2015 at 4:41 am

Going through with it would be bad, but Greece may get a lot out of putting default on the table as a serious option.

13 Tom Warner January 28, 2015 at 6:59 am

I’ve written a blog post explaining what I wrote above in detail and why Greece is so trapped. Also btw Greek debt service cost appears to be only 1.7% of GDP in 2014, but that just means there’s even less that’s possible to save by defaulting.

I think it is absolutely about cash flow.

http://globalized.blog.com/2015/01/28/greece-is-still-trapped/

14 JasonL January 27, 2015 at 8:26 pm

And he’s got a piece in Jacobin Magazine talking about global surplus recycling! Ahem.

https://www.jacobinmag.com/2012/01/europes-greek-moment/

15 JoeF January 27, 2015 at 8:55 pm

I guess I don’t get what that Ahem means. What exactly is wrong with his analysis?

16 Anon. January 27, 2015 at 9:05 pm

Yup, Varoufakis is a weird and interesting dude. Good politician though? In Greece of all places? Probably not. Which makes the experiment even more entertaining!

17 Rahul January 28, 2015 at 1:08 am

He seems more charismatic politician than shrewd economist.

18 Urstoff January 27, 2015 at 9:20 pm

Steam probably rakes in about as much as Greece’s GDP, so it seems like a good fit.

19 R Richard Schweitzer January 27, 2015 at 9:49 pm

“Market-societies, or capitalism, emerged when, some time in the 18th century, the expulsion of peasants from their ancestral lands (the so-called Enclosures in Britain),. . . etc.,”

Back to the library stacks for this chap as soon as the Syris can spare him, if, indeed he is not snapped up by the declining Obama administration.

20 Sam January 27, 2015 at 10:27 pm

His thesis of surplus recycling sounds like a sinister diagnosis of simple aggregate demand management. He gives the example of Austrailia’s equalization system which balances fiscal disparities between regions. In some sense that’s a useful baseline for thinking about the Eurozone – no monetary union without fiscal union – but the whole talk of “surplus value” gives it a stupid Marxist-Leninist “imperialist overproduction” interpretation that makes no sense. Taken literally it’s as if Greece in stagnation is the sensible country but Germany needs to fabricate a crisis to offload its exports/overproduction.

21 JasonL January 27, 2015 at 11:50 pm

Yep.

22 Moreno Klaus January 28, 2015 at 8:35 am

Wasn’t that Germany’s primary goal with the euro? Besides if Southern Europe has their own coins, German economy would be maybe far less competitive…

23 georgeK January 28, 2015 at 12:22 am

It is fun, interesting and entertaining, as long as you live outside Greece. For some of us that live in Greece, believe in free markets and don’t agree with those crazy leftist that we recently elected as our government, it is more of a nightmare.

24 JoeF January 28, 2015 at 12:26 am

As opposed to the sensible rightists who did a fantastic job up till now?

25 GeorgeK January 28, 2015 at 6:25 am

I didn’t say that. And the new government is a coalition of leftist and rightist – the only connecting factor is their madness.

26 Orthodox Prussian January 28, 2015 at 12:27 am

You and those 3 other Greeks are screwed.

27 Rahul January 28, 2015 at 1:09 am

I think when you cannot pay back your loans, that’s an excellent time to turn leftist.

28 Moreno Klaus January 28, 2015 at 8:36 am

+1

29 lorenzo January 30, 2015 at 9:41 am

I think when you start talking of economic issues in moral terms, that’s an excellent time to turn rightist.

30 prior_approval January 28, 2015 at 12:28 am

‘Stay tuned, this will be fun.’

But wait, apparently reliable sources have informed us that this man will be working with ‘Maoist and Trotskyite factions’ as part of his power base, and that we should be more consistent in our moralizing.

31 dan1111 January 28, 2015 at 4:43 am

I didn’t like “this will be fun” either. It is highly unlikely to be fun for the people of Greece.

32 Moreno Klaus January 28, 2015 at 8:37 am

It has been a tragedy for years… powered by EU / Bilderberg Elites

33 Sean January 28, 2015 at 7:30 am

Hilarious, I just re-read this piece of his: http://yanisvaroufakis.eu/2014/04/24/greek-statistics-are-back-primary-deficit-presented-as-surplus-with-eurostats-seal-of-approval/

He was one of the first I read that clearly argued that Greece did not have a primary surplus despite the official statistics saying so. I’m partial to the argument that Greece needs to default after getting to that point, so I appreciated the comment. That said, I feel that he won’t be one to let the current government pussyfoot around the issues.

34 James January 28, 2015 at 2:09 pm

Varoufakis wrote a book about the financial crisis: ‘The Global Minotaur’

http://www.amazon.com/The-Global-Minotaur-Financial-Controversies/dp/1780320159

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