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A #1 Sunday Times bestseller [UK] A titanic battle is being waged for Europe's integrity and soul, with the forces of reason and humanism losing out to growing irrationality, authoritarianism, and malice, promoting inequality and austerity. The whole world has a stake in a victory for rationality, liberty, democracy, and humanism. In January 2015, Yanis Varoufakis, an econom A #1 Sunday Times bestseller [UK] A titanic battle is being waged for Europe's integrity and soul, with the forces of reason and humanism losing out to growing irrationality, authoritarianism, and malice, promoting inequality and austerity. The whole world has a stake in a victory for rationality, liberty, democracy, and humanism. In January 2015, Yanis Varoufakis, an economics professor teaching in Austin, Texas, was elected to the Greek parliament with more votes than any other member of parliament. He was appointed finance minister and, in the whirlwind five months that followed, everything he had warned about-the perils of the euro's faulty design, the European Union's shortsighted austerity policies, financialized crony capitalism, American complicity and rising authoritarianism-was confirmed as the "troika" (the European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund, and European Commission) stonewalled his efforts to resolve Greece's economic crisis. Here, Varoufakis delivers a fresh look at the history of Europe's crisis and America's central role in it. He presents the ultimate case against austerity, proposing concrete policies for Europe that are necessary to address its crisis and avert contagion to America, China, and the rest of the world. With passionate, informative, and at times humorous prose, he warns that the implosion of an admittedly crisis-ridden and deeply irrational European monetary union should, and can, be avoided at all cost.


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A #1 Sunday Times bestseller [UK] A titanic battle is being waged for Europe's integrity and soul, with the forces of reason and humanism losing out to growing irrationality, authoritarianism, and malice, promoting inequality and austerity. The whole world has a stake in a victory for rationality, liberty, democracy, and humanism. In January 2015, Yanis Varoufakis, an econom A #1 Sunday Times bestseller [UK] A titanic battle is being waged for Europe's integrity and soul, with the forces of reason and humanism losing out to growing irrationality, authoritarianism, and malice, promoting inequality and austerity. The whole world has a stake in a victory for rationality, liberty, democracy, and humanism. In January 2015, Yanis Varoufakis, an economics professor teaching in Austin, Texas, was elected to the Greek parliament with more votes than any other member of parliament. He was appointed finance minister and, in the whirlwind five months that followed, everything he had warned about-the perils of the euro's faulty design, the European Union's shortsighted austerity policies, financialized crony capitalism, American complicity and rising authoritarianism-was confirmed as the "troika" (the European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund, and European Commission) stonewalled his efforts to resolve Greece's economic crisis. Here, Varoufakis delivers a fresh look at the history of Europe's crisis and America's central role in it. He presents the ultimate case against austerity, proposing concrete policies for Europe that are necessary to address its crisis and avert contagion to America, China, and the rest of the world. With passionate, informative, and at times humorous prose, he warns that the implosion of an admittedly crisis-ridden and deeply irrational European monetary union should, and can, be avoided at all cost.

30 review for And the Weak Suffer What They Must? Europe's Crisis and America's Economic Future

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lubinka Dimitrova

    Regardless of my personal opinion of Mr. Varoufakis (him being an arrogant, attention-seeking clown of a politician), this book was an insightful page-turner and a crash course in capitalist economics and global economy, clearly presented even for the layman with virtually no previous economic knowledge whatsoever. The book is divided roughly in two parts. It begins with the post-war economic decisions America and Europe took, the role Bretton Woods played for the future of the world in general, Regardless of my personal opinion of Mr. Varoufakis (him being an arrogant, attention-seeking clown of a politician), this book was an insightful page-turner and a crash course in capitalist economics and global economy, clearly presented even for the layman with virtually no previous economic knowledge whatsoever. The book is divided roughly in two parts. It begins with the post-war economic decisions America and Europe took, the role Bretton Woods played for the future of the world in general, the reversal under the Nixon Shock of 1971, and the realities of the current Eurozone and Federal Reserve systems. I was stunned by the eye-opening astuteness of his presentation and the fair judgement towards all parties involved. The second part deals with the 2008 financial crisis and its impact on Europe (crippled by the very monetary union that was supposed to shield it when such events happen), and what the people in charge ended up doing to make it much worse. In this, Varoufakis is unrelenting in his criticism, but it always backed up by solid economic logic. He saves the most biting of his words on the bureaucrats and politicians of the EU who used the bailout to save the banks, but left the bills to the people. And not just any people, but the weakest people in the weakest of nations (not just Greece, but Ireland, Spain, Portugal, and Italy). Hence the title of the book. This book would have been extremely entertaining, if not for the fact that it's terrifyingly prophetic. Varoufakis is right. Europe is too important to be left to the Europeans. Two world wars in the last century prove this quite obviously. The crisis will never end if European leaders keep pushing policies that have repeatedly failed. And will not be long after the week meet ruin, before the strong will stumble and fall themselves.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    A succinct breakdown of the Eurozone crisis, And the Weak Suffer What They Must? critiques the ideology of neoliberal austerity and calls for democratic European unity in the face of fascism’s resurgence across the continent. Written by Greece’s former finance minister, much of the book takes a look at monetary policy in the postwar period; in concise prose it analyzes the formation of the technocratic European Union in the wake of the Nixon shock, and critiques the E.U.’s many flaws, tracing ho A succinct breakdown of the Eurozone crisis, And the Weak Suffer What They Must? critiques the ideology of neoliberal austerity and calls for democratic European unity in the face of fascism’s resurgence across the continent. Written by Greece’s former finance minister, much of the book takes a look at monetary policy in the postwar period; in concise prose it analyzes the formation of the technocratic European Union in the wake of the Nixon shock, and critiques the E.U.’s many flaws, tracing how they led to economic catastrophe in 2009 and thereafter caused long-lasting trouble. Varoufakis laces his work with caustic wit, and it’s enjoyable to read; the book moves at too fast of a pace, though, to work as a comprehensive introduction to the topic.

  3. 4 out of 5

    David M

    This book is essential reading. It should fill you with rage. Varoufakis shows very clearly how the powers-that-be of the EU, unelected 'experts' and technocrats, repeatedly destroyed the possibility of any humane solution to the economic crisis. They repeatedly sided with the French and German financial sector against the peoples of Europe, helping create the conditions for this neofascist shitshow that now seems to be sweeping western civilization. At times as I read I couldn't help cheering on This book is essential reading. It should fill you with rage. Varoufakis shows very clearly how the powers-that-be of the EU, unelected 'experts' and technocrats, repeatedly destroyed the possibility of any humane solution to the economic crisis. They repeatedly sided with the French and German financial sector against the peoples of Europe, helping create the conditions for this neofascist shitshow that now seems to be sweeping western civilization. At times as I read I couldn't help cheering on the dismantling of the EU, feeling that they're now reaping what they sowed. Yet it should be noted that Varoufakis himself actually came out quite strongly against Brexit this past summer. He reminds us that it's not enough to rage at corrupt and illegitimate institutions. Simply tearing them down could lead to an even worse situation. * 'There is no alternative' - Margaret Thatcher on neoliberalism 'Their world is crumbling. Ours is being built' - France's Front National on 11-8-16 Are we living in a world in which there are alternatives again? If so, by no means is this necessarily good news for humanity. As bad as the status quo has been, of course things can always get much worse, and at the moment barbarism definitely seems to have the upper hand. Varoufakis represents the possibility of a more humane alternative; he represents democratic socialism. At a time when many liberals (terrified for good reason) are ready to blame the stupidity of the rabble, Varoufakis is a voice on the left calling for more democracy, not less. ...But then what is neoliberalism? No doubt the term is often used in a vague way, to denote something like 'the establishment.' It's possible, however, to fill it out with more definite historical content, and that's part of the purpose of this book. - 1971, dissolution of the Bretton woods monetary system "But balancing the requirements of a stable international system against the desirability of retaining freedom of action for national policy, a number of countries, including the US, opted for the latter... A controlled disintegration in the world economy is a legitimate objective for the 1980s." -Paul Volcker, speaking at the University of Warwick, November 8, 1978; he would soon be appointed chairman of the Federal Reserve The essence of his Warwick University lecture was, if America cannot recycle its surplus, having slipped back into a deficit position back in the mid-1960s, it must now recycle other people's surpluses! ... The trick for America to gain the power to recycle other countries' surpluses in the 1980s, Volcker believed, was to persuade foreign capitalists to voluntarily send their capital to Wall Street. Tricky but not impossible. The trick was to hit two usually contradictory targets at once: on the one hand, push American interest rates through the roof while on the other, ensuring that Wall Street offered a more lucrative for investors than its equivalents in {other cities}... High interest rates are wonderful for those living on unearned income, the so-called rentiers, but not so good for manufacturers who see their investment costs skyrocket and the purchasing power of their customers plummet. For this reason, combining high returns to financial capital (requiring high interest rates) with high profit rates for American businesses (requiring low interest rates) was never going to be easy, and Volcker knew this. It was a combination that could only come about if another way of providing that profit could be found. And one way to do that would be to reduce wages. On the one hand, the Fed would push interest rates through the roof while, at once, the federal government would turn a blind eye, indeed promote, policies that crushed the real wage prospects of American workers. And indeed this is what happened - "For the first time in American history, including the Great Depression, American blue-collar workers were to face an age of declining real wages. That secular decline, in a global economy buffeted by the 'controlled disintegration' Volcker unashamedly spoke of, was the price poorer Americans were to pay so that the United States could maintain world dominance despite being a deficit nation." The fate of the American working class set off a chain reaction negatively affecting poor people across the world; by the '80s, "Disintegration was in the air and the majority of people in a majority of countries eventually acquiesced to the notion that labor was overvalued and overprotected, manufacturing was overrated, while finance was undervalued and in need of 'unshackling.'" Thus the process was already underway before Thatcher and Reagan came to power; they merely gave it an ideological garb.

  4. 5 out of 5

    MJ Nicholls

    Money, the procurement of, the managing of, the retaining of, or the sharing of, has never been one of my strongest areas of comp. In fact, it is not a thick fat lie to say that economics, both personal and global, has induced violent terror and paranoia in me over my three decades of breathing. These coins and rectangular crinkles of paper are our true masters, and wield ultimate power over us, and steer the courses of our lives so strongly as to crush our free will completely, relegating us to Money, the procurement of, the managing of, the retaining of, or the sharing of, has never been one of my strongest areas of comp. In fact, it is not a thick fat lie to say that economics, both personal and global, has induced violent terror and paranoia in me over my three decades of breathing. These coins and rectangular crinkles of paper are our true masters, and wield ultimate power over us, and steer the courses of our lives so strongly as to crush our free will completely, relegating us to woeful prancing mutt-creatures. The former Greek finance minister elaborates with elegance on this state of affairs, outlining the chain of spiteful, power-hugging events stemming from the Nixon administration to the formation of the EU that brought Europe into a period of miserable austerity, where the cashless have their souls stamped on by the wealthy repeatedly, and the bureaucrats devise more elaborate ways to continue their soul-stamping couched in the rhetoric of diplomacy and sound economic reasoning. Bastards, bastards, bastards! If your view on the human enterprise is similar to mine, i.e. that we are incapable of basic decency in money matters, and self-interest and wealth-hoarding is a simple fact of our distinctly whiffy species, this excellent book will not change your view, although Yanis has a sliver more optimism in his outlook than the cynical cash-strapped Calvinist writing this. A terrific, coruscating account on the failings of capitalism and a nightmarish peep into the black chambers of power.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    The abstract volatility of global Finance Capitalism opens the door to Fascism's scapegoating... Highlights: Economics as the Modern Religion: --The modern world is built on abstraction, on “economics” (political economy, more accurately, since it is a constant struggle of power relations). How much do you really understand of the global commodity chain, financial speculation, central banking, asset and stock pricing, etc.? --A society of immense inequality and economic volatility built on abstract The abstract volatility of global Finance Capitalism opens the door to Fascism's scapegoating... Highlights: Economics as the Modern Religion: --The modern world is built on abstraction, on “economics” (political economy, more accurately, since it is a constant struggle of power relations). How much do you really understand of the global commodity chain, financial speculation, central banking, asset and stock pricing, etc.? --A society of immense inequality and economic volatility built on abstraction is vulnerable to manipulation. Instead of investigating these abstractions, consider how much easier it is to scapegoat more-visible, vulnerable groups during a crisis. This is the appeal of fascism in the age of global capitalism, where entire nations of millions are swayed by the dictates of the global markets that they do not understand. Whether the scapegoat is Jewish bankers or immigrants or petty criminals or social deviants, the actual vested powers remain sheltered behind capitalism's abstract social domination. --Thus, a heavy burden is placed on those who can describe real-world political economy to the public in an engaging & accessible manner. Varoufakis is exceptional here; his eloquent writing style brings to life all the experience he has with critically applying theory with real-world economics: 1) Another Now: Dispatches from an Alternative Present: his 2020 outline on current conditions and a plan for postcapitalism. 2) Talking to My Daughter About the Economy: or, How Capitalism Works - and How It Fails: the most accessible jargon-free intro 3) The Global Minotaur: America, the True Origins of the Financial Crisis and the Future of the World Economy: part one on post WWII U.S. plans, and this book (part two) is the aftermath in Europe --At the very least check out his public lectures: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list... Macroeconomics: Trade Imbalances, Private Banking and Crises: --Now, radical readers might be bothered by all the attention paid to John Maynard Keynes, but post-Great Depression capitalism is heavily influenced by Keynes. We first diagnose reality before we can fix social issues at their roots (as Marx attempted with the volumes of Capital, building on and critiquing classical economists, but never finished within his lifetime to integrate his closed economic system with foreign trade/world market/colonialism, the State, etc.). --Varoufakis quoting Keynes: “As soon as a storm rises,” bankers behave like a “fair-weather sailor” who “abandons the boats which might carry him to safety by his haste to push his neighbor off and himself in.”--The core “economics” lesson of this book is the role of trade imbalances and private for-profit banks in causing financial crises on the global stage. Let’s walk through this: Trade Imbalances: 1) Global capitalism has no Robinson Crusoe self-sufficiency; countries rely on one another as buyers/sellers in the global markets. 2) “Asymmetrical relations” are thus the norm; some countries/regions are net exporters while other are net importers. 3) Furthermore, one’s trade surplus is another’s trade deficit, and vice versa. The hubris of nationalism: despite all the rhetoric on competition between countries, if the buyers’ demand falls, then the exporters will suffer too. 4) The instability of capitalism: money flows from the deficit to the surplus region/country (i.e. to buy their goods). For large trade imbalances (ex. Germany vs. rest of Europe), this will be problematic as deflation grows in the deficit (money spent) while inflation spreads in the surplus (money accumulated). 5) Thus, global capitalism’s trade imbalances require surplus recycling mechanisms to feed the deficit’s demand and prevent a slip in one area spiraling into a systemic crisis. Banking and Financial Crisis: 6) Private for-profit banks provide surplus recycling during the good times (hence, Keynes’ “fair-weather sailor”). The surplus’ profits accumulates in their banks, which lend back to the deficit because they have higher interest rates (due to their disappearing money). 7) This promotes the deficit’s demand, creating a reciprocal import-export boom, which further boosts financial confidence to lend more… All the while, the trade imbalance and the deficit’s debt grows. Since this is driven by for-profit banks (i.e. with no interest on the long-term social needs of local communities), this quickly becomes a speculative bubble. 8) And here is why this is only “fair-weather” surplus recycling, because when financial confidence flips to financial panic (from the over-lending bubble bursting), the surplus’ banks will leave everyone else out to dry by refusing to lend to the deficit. The deficit, reliant on loans, goes bankrupt. Demand for surplus crashes in a debt deflation. Systemic crisis hits global capitalism (thus, the adaptations of central banking as lenders-of-last-resort). Flexible currencies as shock absorber: 9) Now, one shock absorber is flexible values for domestic currencies (i.e. the autonomy to implement this): a) For the deficit: the option of currency devaluation (a) cheapens the deficit’s exports, making them more competitive thus raising revenue and (b) shrinks debts in local currency relative to other currencies. Example: Iceland’s recovery post-2008 (which also included jailing white-collar criminal bankers). b) For the surplus: high demand for surplus increases the value of the surplus’ currency, which eventually makes their exports pricier thus less competitive. This suggests why surplus German elites were willing to consider a monetary union with France. 10) This balancing act is attacked by myopic elites, i.e. surplus’ elites (“unfair” competition), deficit’s elites (domestic assets devalued), deficit politicians/nationalists (seen as “national weakness”), etc., and weary labor, i.e. deficit’s labor (negotiation gains lost from devaluation). 11) Flexible currency values were stifled by the gold standard (led to Great Depression), reliant on U.S. surplus during Bretton Woods and then U.S. deficit post-Nixon Shock, and now stifled by the Euro in Europe. Bretton Woods as US Surplus Recycling: 12) New Dealers (went through the Great Depression, influenced by Keynes) understood the need for surplus recycling, building it domestically in the form of Social Security + Federal deposit insurance + Medicare + food stamps + (most significantly) the U.S. Military Industrial Complex, where the State and corporations negotiated to have production spread throughout the many varying asymmetrical states and districts (in particular the deficit regions). 13) However, after WWII, U.S. was so dominant that the New Dealers refused Keynes’ conception of an international central bank/surplus recycling mechanism (“bancor”). U.S. wanted to control the recycling of its own immense surplus. 14) Thus, the Bretton Woods system they created was predicated on U.S. preserving its surplus. U.S. would recycle its surplus by providing aide to rebuild Europe, and in turn Europe would provide the demand to consume U.S. surplus. U.S. would use some of its surplus profits to maintain this system by defending others’ exchange rates against trade imbalance effects and currency speculators. 15) New Dealers understood the need for shock absorbers to prevent any slump of the U.S. dollar avalanching across the world. So, U.S. propped up puppets Japan and West Germany as strong regional currencies issued by central banks backed by heavy industries. Global Minotaur as U.S. Deficit recycling others’ surpluses: 16) This lasted until the late 60’s, when U.S. lost its surplus to military overspending (genocidal wars on Korea, and especially Vietnam), which gave rise to global competition. U.S. realized it could maintain hegemony by controlling global surplus recycling, even if it was not their own surplus. So, the Nixon Shock ended Bretton Woods, and U.S. switched to what Varoufakis calls the “Global Minotaur”, becoming the global deficit that fed on others’ surpluses (Germany, Japan, later China). 17) How would U.S. profit? As long as the surplus recycling took place in Wall Street, U.S. Finance was well-compensated from handling others’ profits, a “tribute” paid to the Global Minotaur (along with dollar imperialism, i.e. the control of printing dollars while global trade depended on it, where others fund your deficits while holding onto depreciating U.S. Treasury bills, and you have military power to not pay up unlike Third World countries, see Super Imperialism - New Edition: The Origin and Fundamentals of U.S. World Dominance). 18) Thus, Financialization was initially required. Wall Street neoliberals refer to this era as “The Great Moderation”, ending the post-WWII Bretton Woods “Financial Repression” (where New Dealers distrusted and restricted bankers after the Great Depression). 19) Of course, unleashing banking means unleashing bubbles, as U.S. Finance took the world’s surplus profits and built a derivatives doomsday machine, bursting in 2008. The Euro crisis: 20) European elites took Bretton Woods’ U.S. surplus recycling for granted. After the Nixon Shock, various monetary unions were tried, eventually leading to the Euro. The key fallacy is French and German elites’ shenanigans leading to economic union without political unity, thus no space for democracy (as even liberal parliamentary democracy is bypassed) or political surplus recycling. 21) Europe’s economy was kept going by U.S.'s Global Minotaur surplus recycling until the bubble imploded in 2008. 22) Ponzi growth becomes Ponzi austerity: European elites’ bailout loans are not meant to reduce the deficits' debts, which simply cannot be repaid (this is the cost of the import-export boom and banking frenzy, and additional austerity is the nail in the coffin). The bailout loans are actually a transfer of bad debts (held mostly by the surplus’ private banks) onto the public. 23) And so, we have come full circle and return to the problem of global capitalism’s abstractions, and how during a crisis this is a breeding ground for fascism (as history has also shown). Without a class-conscious analysis of the systemic structures behind power (esp. political economy), liberal institutions are vulnerable to the divisions of nationalism, xenophobia, bigotry, etc. The Missing: --Varoufakis makes a surprising but compelling case that the liberal economic institutions in Europe are in a worse state than the U.S. At this stage in the climate crisis, the future is socialism or barbarism, and the case for socialism has to be found elsewhere: Another Now: Dispatches from an Alternative Present --It is rather unfortunate that in a world of extreme inequality, the powerful demand so much attention by the simple fact that power rules. It is not some morbid fascination that propels me to read so much Americentric and Eurocentric political economy; it just has too much impact on the rest of the world: -The Darker Nations: A People's History of the Third World -The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South --Furthermore, how can we diagnose Fascism without connecting it to Liberalism's colonial/settler colonial exterminations in the coloured continents (Nazi's Lebensraum - "living space")? Fascism is Liberalism in crisis, when imperialism's brute practices are brought home. -Discourse on Colonialism -Blackshirts and Reds: Rational Fascism and the Overthrow of Communism -Late Victorian Holocausts: El Niño Famines and the Making of the Third World -Hitler's American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law --Need to read more on banking, debt deflation, monetary policies, etc.: -The Public Bank Solution: From Austerity to Prosperity -Killing the Host: How Financial Parasites and Debt Bondage Destroy the Global Economy -J Is for Junk Economics: A Guide to Reality in an Age of Deception -Where Does Money Come From?: A Guide To The Uk Monetary And Banking System

  6. 4 out of 5

    Philippe

    This book left me gasping for air more than once. Varoufakis looks at postwar European history through the lens of global monetary policy, from Bretton Woods to the ongoing reverberations of the euro crisis. And a powerful lens it is to help us understand the turbulence we are witnessing today. Through Varoufakis’ version of the facts the European project appears as a total fraud. Worse, macro-economic machiavelism and institutional insouciance have created a Frankensteinian monster that has now This book left me gasping for air more than once. Varoufakis looks at postwar European history through the lens of global monetary policy, from Bretton Woods to the ongoing reverberations of the euro crisis. And a powerful lens it is to help us understand the turbulence we are witnessing today. Through Varoufakis’ version of the facts the European project appears as a total fraud. Worse, macro-economic machiavelism and institutional insouciance have created a Frankensteinian monster that has now started to cannibalize itself. The thesis is shocking but plausible and it is borne out by the recent maelstrom of events. Seen from this angle, Brexit is not an anomaly but a perfectly predictable (and, I am inclined to say, desirable) milestone in the unraveling of the EU. This book offers the proverbial nail in the coffin of my personal view on the Union. I used to be a staunch supporter, but over the years I have grown increasingly disenchanted with this toxic cocktail of bureaucratic hubris, flagrant neoliberalism, democratic disdain and strategic myopia. Reading Varoufakis I understand much better why and how we have been painted into this uncomfortable corner. So how do we get out of this predicament? The author calls for an urgent redesign of the monetary system that supports the euro. The paradox of a continent that is divided over a common currency must be exchanged for another paradox: a process of decentralized europeanization that increases institutional effectiveness at the European level and reinforces the constituent democracies of the Union. We can only hope that the escalating series of stresses and shocks - defaults, exits, migrant flows, terrorism, geopolitical setbacks - wakes EU decision makers from their stupor and frees the citizenry from the shackles of the Bundesbank. I recommend this book without hesitation to all European citizens. This story needs to be known. It is exceedingly well told to boot. In fact, the book reads like a good thriller. Pity that we’re part of the plot and as good as powerless to extricate ourselves from it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Malcolm Pellettier

    The titular quote is from Thucydides, and refers to the Athenians mistreatment of the defeated Malians. Essentially, the Athenians pig-headedly demanded a pound of flesh from their defeated enemy. (ring any bells??) Well..... this is well-nigh vital reading for understanding the colossal cluster-fck currently raping Europe. Yanis doesn't mince words, either, warning that the Greek Golden Dawn (unrepentant Nazis/fascists) are the tip of the iceberg, and that continental fascism is precisely what's The titular quote is from Thucydides, and refers to the Athenians mistreatment of the defeated Malians. Essentially, the Athenians pig-headedly demanded a pound of flesh from their defeated enemy. (ring any bells??) Well..... this is well-nigh vital reading for understanding the colossal cluster-fck currently raping Europe. Yanis doesn't mince words, either, warning that the Greek Golden Dawn (unrepentant Nazis/fascists) are the tip of the iceberg, and that continental fascism is precisely what's at stake. This is the best European economic history of the Nixon Shock(s), Post-Bretton Woods, and the march towards the Euro, that I've ever encountered, though I do remain skeptical about some of the motivations Varoufakis attributes to the various players, mainly French technocrats....but it's a minor quibble. There is no doubt that the PIIGS have been forced to endure Fiscal Waterboarding (Yanis' neologism) and that the Troika are engaging in a species of Ponzi Austerity(also a Varoufakis neologism), in which indebted countries are forced to borrow even more money from themselves as they prop up supranational (ie German and French) banks.....just enough to avoid default. As he points out, the culprit lies in the Maastricht treaty's (ie what inaugurated the Euro, and the European monetary union) wild insufficiencies. The Maastricht Treaty quite notoriously precluded/s the ECB from bailing out any individual nation?!!?. The analogy, as has been mentioned by many, is as if Florida, or Nevada, were forced to dig themselves out of 2008's hole alone, rather than be girded by Federal relief from Washington and/or the Fed. And this is the problem. There's no Federal co-ordination to collectivize European debt.....but yet, they're tied together by a de facto gold-standard which prevents a normal (national) response; namely, de-valuing one's currency. In essence, Maastricht failed to account for wild trade imbalances within a common currency, without any political recycling mechanism to address the (trade) deficit countries on the periphery....to Germany's core. For example, think of the wildly imbricated nature of China/America's death embrace: China's massive trade surplus is simply recycled back to Wall Street who lends it back to the American consumer to buy.....Chinese products. In other words, it's China who's propping up the US's trade deficit. I must confess that I now see Angela Merkel in a much better light, because apparently, it is the independent German central Bank, the Bundesbank, who is playing the recalcitrant monster, by demanding that the Maastricht Treaty be followed unequivocally. For deficit countries, the big bugbear remains that, pragmatically, it would take approx. 12 months to leave the Euro. In that time Bond speculators would bury a prospective exiting country in the bond market, by shorting the currency, sending them to hell, essentially. So, in essence, they're bankrupt nations are caught between a rock and a hard place. Nevertheless I am left with several bloody questions; leastwise, is why aren't the PIIGS countries a) seeking loans outside of the EU....China and other Sovereign Wealth funds come to mind, and b) one needn't announce an EU exit 12 months in advance. I.E. couldn't one prepare it on the sly, somewhat?? The amount of money that Greece needs is chump change to any advanced Western economy. Over 90% of any bailout funds from the ECB to Greece, Ireland or Portugal is going directly to French and German banks, as opposed to the desperate countries who need it. The Troika's entire mission in Greece is to warn Spain, Italy and France (in that order) of precisely what's in store for them, if they don't accede to austerity measures. Problematically, it doesn't really take Keynes to figure out that austerity measures in the midst of the Great Recession is the single worst thing anyone can do. Just ask Herbert Hoover. It's pro cyclical and will lead to the nebulous liquidity trap, or Depression. Right now, breaking up the European Union, and more pointedly, breaking up the euro monetary union, seems the least painful option for Europeans, if they're not going to allot political powers and centrally coordinated monetary powers to an administrative body to collectivize European debt. The obvious answers are a species of collectivized quantitative easing (usually undertaken, precisely because it's a monetary solution from so-called independent central banks, rather than politically approved fiscal stimuli, which, invariably, are never passed in their respective legislatures.......(think of the difficulty the various TARP bills encountered in the U.S.)). However, its quite clear that the current attempts at widespread internal devaluation - ie lowering wages and cutting public expenditures, such as health care, pensions, unemployment insurance,etc. will lead to more right wing governments: see France's NAtional Front, Hungary, Greece, and now the array of anti-refugee Balkan responses. It's amazing to me that, given all that we know from (Keynesian) Economics, this all of this could l be avoided. I have no idea how Varoufakis remains so calm in the face of such avoidable calamity. They're playing with fire......

  8. 5 out of 5

    Phil

    Regardless of what Dr. Varoufakis thinks about his books he is an academic and this is an academic book about the Euro and the role of currency in modern economies and our modern sovereignty expectations. I enjoyed it but I have an interest in and I have done a lot of reading on modern economics and currencies. I read Dr Varoufakis's blog religiously and I consider him a modern economic and political leader worthy of taking very seriously. If you watch some of his discussions on YouTube you will Regardless of what Dr. Varoufakis thinks about his books he is an academic and this is an academic book about the Euro and the role of currency in modern economies and our modern sovereignty expectations. I enjoyed it but I have an interest in and I have done a lot of reading on modern economics and currencies. I read Dr Varoufakis's blog religiously and I consider him a modern economic and political leader worthy of taking very seriously. If you watch some of his discussions on YouTube you will see he has a fantastic wit. His definition of economics as religion with graphs is now quoted every where. He is serious without taking himself seriously . Although I recommend this book highly be aware that I am a Varoufakis groupie and hardly objective.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    I started reading ‘And The Weak Suffer What They Must?’ in November 2016 and rapidly gave up as I was depressed about Trump. In the intervening two years I’ve developed coping mechanisms for Brexit and Trump-related despair, so it was time to give Varoufakis another chance. He is relentlessly critical of the EU in general and the euro in particular, in a fashion that to me clearly shows the fallacies of Brexit. Varoufakis begins by explaining how the EU and Eurozone were constituted, based on th I started reading ‘And The Weak Suffer What They Must?’ in November 2016 and rapidly gave up as I was depressed about Trump. In the intervening two years I’ve developed coping mechanisms for Brexit and Trump-related despair, so it was time to give Varoufakis another chance. He is relentlessly critical of the EU in general and the euro in particular, in a fashion that to me clearly shows the fallacies of Brexit. Varoufakis begins by explaining how the EU and Eurozone were constituted, based on the historical context of the Cold War, Second World War, and even earlier. He then discusses what the euro was trying to achieve and why it was flawed from inception, before getting into the euro crisis of 2010 onwards and its specific manifestation in Greece. Varoufakis is thus of the belief that to grasp the flaws of an institution, you must examine its history and why it behaves as it does. There is none of this reasoned critique from Brexiteers. Moreover, Varoufakis makes it very clear that there are no easy solutions to the Eurozone crisis, given the legal, political, and financial constraints involved. He nonetheless puts forward a series of ‘modest proposals’ to try and improve the situation without the need for longer term, more difficult reforms. This forms a stark contrast to the fantasies of Brexiteers who appear to believe you can simply reject and ignore the EU, despite its pervasive structural importance to the UK economy and legal system. Varoufakis takes the radical approach, by the standards of British politics, of engaging with the reality of the situation, rather than ignoring it. I was amused to see Brexit barely mentioned, as the EU clearly has much bigger and more important problems to deal with than the Tory party fucking around. Part of what makes being a remain supporter so maddening in the current stupid situation is that you’re cast in the role of defending the EU. I certainly agree with Varoufakis that it has many flaws and a serious democratic deficit, however I think that Britain leaving will do absolutely nothing to address them. Instead, Brexit will make the UK a poorer, meaner, more insular, and more divided country. If it even stays a country; my support for Scottish independence is strongly correlated with the idiocy of behaviour in Westminster. The ethos behind Brexit seems to hark back to a prelapsarian time, when British workers had no rights and Europe settled its internal differences with wars rather than meetings. Apart from anything else, the idea that a return to the past is even possible beggars belief. Varoufakis is at pains to show the path dependence of history. The clock cannot be turned back and the EU will not conveniently vanish, leaving a blank slate. All of which makes it incredibly ironic that the book’s cover features a quote from Michael Gove praising Varoufakis. Brexit aside, I enjoyed this thorough, erudite, and spirited deconstruction of the euro’s flaws. The first chapter was slightly confusing, as it jumped backwards and forwards in time. Subsequently, the narrative settled into a more linear pattern and become totally engrossing. I greatly sympathise with Varoufakis' approach, as I too technically have a PhD in economics but think it’s a bunch of bullshit assumptions that Marx was right about. This summary of the euro's inescapable grasp is particularly good: This is the beauty and curse of the Eurozone. Once in, you lack a currency to cut loose of the euro; you have only the euro. To get out of Europe’s monetary union, Greece or Italy, for example, would have first to create a new drachma or a new lira and then unpeg it from the euro. But creating a new paper currency, distributing it around the country, recalibrating the banking and payment systems to function with it and doing everything else that would be required takes a minimum of twelve months. Given that the purpose of going through the palaver of re-creating a lost currency is to devalue it vis-à-vis the currency in people’s hip pockets, leaving the euro is tantamount to announcing a major devaluation a year before it happens. At the drop of a hint of a devaluation twelve years hence, a frightful race is on. Every Tom, Dick, and Harriet will rush to liquidate whatever wealth they have, convert it to euros, take their euros out of the banking system, and either stash them under the bed or carry them across the border to Germany or Switzerland for safekeeping. Before you can say ‘panic’, banks fail, the country is drained of all value, and the economy collapses. This is disastrous because the Eurozone has no effective mechanism for correcting internal structural economic imbalances. Given Greece’s collapse and Germany’s strength, it is deeply problematic that the exchange rate for their currencies is the same – because they have the same currency. Varoufakis points out that economic surpluses from export-led growth within the Eurozone should be used to support deficit countries, otherwise imbalances will only get worse until countries like Greece end up immiserated and effectively bankrupt. As the focus is on the Eurozone, Varoufakis’ sparse mentions of the US are generally to praise its more sensible approach. The book was of course written before Trump took the reins. Nonetheless, he makes broader points about the euro crisis as a symptom of capitalism’s wider failures: In the 1980s and 1990s Europe’s social democrats and America’s democrats abandoned the idea that capitalism had to be civilised by driving a hard bargain with the captains of industry, supporting organised labour and containing the bankers natural instincts. They forgot that unregulated labour and financial and property markets are profoundly inefficient. They ignored inequality created as a by-product of that inefficiency. They lost sight of the fact that inequality destabilises financial markets and reinforces capitalism’s tendency to fall on its face. Overall, Varousfakis provides a convincing and enlightening account of the nature of and reasons for the Eurozone crisis. Although we in the UK are distracted by the calamity of Brexit, this crisis is in no way over. The dangerous levels of debt remain and austerity continues to promote the rise of neo-fascism across Europe. The situation is unstable and frightening. Varoufakis provides a valuable insight into what went wrong, when, and how. His suggestions to make things better also seem sensible, although I very much doubt they will be implemented. Another of many stupidities of Brexit is its encouragement to the EU-27 to defensive retrenchment, rather than evaluation of its flaws and moves towards reform. Britain has united the EU against us, reinforcing the very problems that the Leave vote was allegedly about. The whole thing is so maddening that I wouldn’t be reading about it over Christmas if it wasn’t wholly impossible to avoid. At least Varoufakis supports his views with clear evidence, rather than meaningless emotive soundbites.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Tadas Talaikis

    Severely flawed. The main argument is - fascists don't give money. Well, but we'all know the reality. First, the only meaningful debt is when it finances some value generating projects, but the corruption. Second, if you want to live well, don't borrow in the first place. I remember when some Greece government bitch (I'm not sorry for that) came to Lithuania to argue for their trouble. When we told her that our people\'s pensions are 3x lower than theirs, she said - "but cocktails at your bars ar Severely flawed. The main argument is - fascists don't give money. Well, but we'all know the reality. First, the only meaningful debt is when it finances some value generating projects, but the corruption. Second, if you want to live well, don't borrow in the first place. I remember when some Greece government bitch (I'm not sorry for that) came to Lithuania to argue for their trouble. When we told her that our people\'s pensions are 3x lower than theirs, she said - "but cocktails at your bars are just 5 euros". WTF, our pensioners don't even go to bars! This simple example demonstrates flawed Greece thought process that was created through decades of steal, lies and corruption. So flawed that they even can go to poorer countries and ask for money. Read this one before overrating this populistan shit: Tax evasion and corruption in Greece. More: Yanis Varoufakis’s Fantasy Politics Populism in power: Syriza's challenge to Europe Yanis Varoufakis, Peddler of Snake Oil Such books only shows that some (?) people are stupid, both sides, right, left, whatever, they just can't understand reality, they want to live in their VR fantasy worlds like surrogates. P.S. To be clear, I'm somewhat more leftist that rightist, realistic classical liberal leftist that can't stand populistan idiocies. P.P.S. "Estimates in 2015 indicated that the amount of Greeks' evaded taxes stored in Swiss banks was around 80 billion euros." "2004 external audit exposed creative accounting practices." "Causes found by others included excess government spending, current account deficits and tax avoidance." "In 2009, the Greek government-debt crisis developed, and the EU authorities suspected again a lack of credibility in its book keeping, hence the audits." So, where is the answer? Don't go into bad debt in the first place, because it'll end with much more problems than you expect. This is true like for any individual, same for countries.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    The best reason for reading about economics is the way it makes you realize how little you understand about the global shifts of power and how they play out. I'm reminded of when I first read Joseph Stiglitz, a man who also has some comments about how the Eurozone was created to protect the interests of financial elites, but also stresses that throwing out the project would be a disaster. If you, like most people, don't know much about the Nixon Shock, or like most Americans, hear phrases like " The best reason for reading about economics is the way it makes you realize how little you understand about the global shifts of power and how they play out. I'm reminded of when I first read Joseph Stiglitz, a man who also has some comments about how the Eurozone was created to protect the interests of financial elites, but also stresses that throwing out the project would be a disaster. If you, like most people, don't know much about the Nixon Shock, or like most Americans, hear phrases like "troika policy" a lot without fully understanding the implications of it, this is an excellent primer.

  12. 5 out of 5

    farmwifetwo

    The 2 biggest flaws to this book are it's time jumping, and it's lack of responsibility. It made it hard to follow at times since not being a European I didn't recognize all the names. Also, with the whining and the time jumping, I never managed to figure out the point to the book. It wasn't a true history, it got on a tangent about Nazi growth but just touched on it as a warning but didn't expand so the reader understood the issues fully. Again, not a European and NA's like to claim anyone who' The 2 biggest flaws to this book are it's time jumping, and it's lack of responsibility. It made it hard to follow at times since not being a European I didn't recognize all the names. Also, with the whining and the time jumping, I never managed to figure out the point to the book. It wasn't a true history, it got on a tangent about Nazi growth but just touched on it as a warning but didn't expand so the reader understood the issues fully. Again, not a European and NA's like to claim anyone who's not really left, a fascist. Nowhere does the author take responsibility for the choices Greece made. It's all Germany's fault, the EU's fault, the US's fault, the business' fault. Someone made them take that money. Yes, they were living at a better standard of living than Germany but... as he mentions in the QE section Germany made money because the ECB (think I got the right letters....) had to buy the few bonds they had because Germany doesn't have the debt load. Yes, they made money from it... You can't live on debt financing and you can't expect everyone else to pay. He makes it sound like that if Greece got a bailout/write down that nobody would have been hurt. That's not true. Someone had that debt, someone has to pay. People think bankruptsie's don't hurt anyone and that's not true. Also, they knew what they signed to join the EU. To think that those clauses would not be upheld and that they could spend forever, was wrong. We are currently having the same issues here. Provinces refuse to balance budgets. Using Climate change as an excuse to institute new taxes, force people to buy hydro that is expensive because Nat Gas is going to be banned in new construction. You have to buy expensive electric cars with just a few stations to recharge across a province that's bigger than most EU countries. It's OK, b/c Hydro is now a public company and the gov't will get dividends from your spending. But, you won't be, because you won't have the disposable income but that's oK b/c we'll jump minimum wage and add more CPP.... and it spirals. Giving money to the Teacher's Union's https://www.thestar.com/news/queenspa... and then telling the Dr's who don't have a union that they have to take cuts... would you not go elsewhere to practice and will it be a return to the brain drain.... http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/n... http://business.financialpost.com/new... The Fed's tried to claim we were in a recession of sorts so they could go on a spending spree. On what.... nobody knows.... Sooner or later it comes back to being able to pay. But the Baby Boomer's are owed... they built this country (just ask my Mother), the millenials are going to one day learn they've been screwed when there is nobody left to pay the bills. The next 20 years are going to be interesting. We'll see if recessions finally happen and if the EU collapses or learns to change.

  13. 5 out of 5

    A Reader

    They say that men with huge egos need constant praise. It is not going to happen with Yanis Varoufakis and his book ‘And the Weak Suffer What They Must?’, I am afraid. Sadly, there are no revelations about his disastrous five months as Greece’s finance minister, just a few anecdotes here and there. It is rather a history of the international monetary system that starts with the Nixon Shock of 1971 and the end of the gold standard system of monetary policy for international exchange of gold deposi They say that men with huge egos need constant praise. It is not going to happen with Yanis Varoufakis and his book ‘And the Weak Suffer What They Must?’, I am afraid. Sadly, there are no revelations about his disastrous five months as Greece’s finance minister, just a few anecdotes here and there. It is rather a history of the international monetary system that starts with the Nixon Shock of 1971 and the end of the gold standard system of monetary policy for international exchange of gold deposits. It was this event that forced Europe, Germany and France in particular, to create a stable monetary system of its own, “yet without the necessary shock absorbers”, meaning the mechanisms and the institutions that could help implement some sort of economic adjustment, namely, one fiscal policy, with at least some redistribution to address imbalances across the Eurozone. Yanis Varoufakis is a clever man and a good story teller. He delivered an interesting book. But not a stimulating or thought – provoking book that one would expect from ‘the most interesting man in the world’ according to the quote at the back cover.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Armineh Nouri

    The first draft of the book was penned before Varoufakis began his short-lived career as the Finance Minister of Greece. Therefore he has chosen to keep his experiences in 2015 out of this account of the Eurozone crisis, which helps provide a bigger picture within the historical context of post-WWII global politics. As a bonus, he has included excerpts from his "Modest Proposal" as an Appendix, which outline his proposed solution to the seemingly irreconcilable guidelines of the ECB as dictated The first draft of the book was penned before Varoufakis began his short-lived career as the Finance Minister of Greece. Therefore he has chosen to keep his experiences in 2015 out of this account of the Eurozone crisis, which helps provide a bigger picture within the historical context of post-WWII global politics. As a bonus, he has included excerpts from his "Modest Proposal" as an Appendix, which outline his proposed solution to the seemingly irreconcilable guidelines of the ECB as dictated by the Maastricht treaty, the century-long struggle for democratic unity within Europe, and long-term economic stability. A wonderful read.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Stefan

    Highly critical of current (2011-2015) eurozone status quo, haphazard in narrative (i.e. couldn't all these notes got incorporated into main text and footnotes? couldn't repetitions be avoided?) and rather anecdotal vs. factual (except for the historical background), but still an enjoyable, worthwhile and interesting read. Although the Yanis Varoufakis’ book helped me to fill in gaps in my comprehension of Eurozone monetary system developments and provided an alternative view on how German surplu Highly critical of current (2011-2015) eurozone status quo, haphazard in narrative (i.e. couldn't all these notes got incorporated into main text and footnotes? couldn't repetitions be avoided?) and rather anecdotal vs. factual (except for the historical background), but still an enjoyable, worthwhile and interesting read. Although the Yanis Varoufakis’ book helped me to fill in gaps in my comprehension of Eurozone monetary system developments and provided an alternative view on how German surpluses shall be redistributed, I somehow failed to awe to his social analyse and blame shifting. Yanis isn't far from scaremongering, with a theme of Nazi resurgence in response to social inequality in the centre, which is actually quite ironic as Hayek used similar arguments in his ‘Road to Serfdom’. Whilst he blames current shape and systemic mistakes of Eurozone monetary system on power greedy French bureaucrats and protective-dominative Germans, where German bankers (Franz?!) are responsible for indebting asset-rich newcomers to eurozone, the debt hungry nations enjoying unsustainable credit-backed rise of living conditions seems to be without acknowledged responsibility. IMHO there is way too many personal opinions and conclusions vs. facts, which could help to build strong arguments for potential future change. I.e. the proposed Keynesian solutions, which actually might work, are confronted only with current status quo vs. alternative solutions that might at least help reader to comprehend troika’s underlying motives (i.e. let Greece bankrupt, leave euro and see how well that would work out). Eurozone austerity programme is supposedly impeding growth of the world economy, but Yanis doesn't address the glut of cheap products that thanks to oversupply of money fulfilled needs of all these who could afford credit. Finally, he seems to skip issues like ageing and shrinking society, de-industrialisation, technological change that's charging ahead at a pace greater than society's ability to adapt (post-macho culture, equal opportunities, further eradication of low-skilled jobs to automation, etc), which in my opinion are among these that will need to be addressed much quicker that economist would like to acknowledge as root cause of all this mess. Overall, it is worthwhile to learn Yanis opinions, but I've probably expected much more of a concrete, fact based arguments than that. Hopefully, his next book will bring these with an account of Greek negotiations.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mark Hebden

    Although written before Brexit it is impossible to read this book without adding the post-Brexit filter to the text. Colours have been firmly tied to one of two masts, they being leave or remain - leavers will find much in this book they agree with and remainers will suffer inconvenient reminders of the flaws in the EU monetary system. However, this is more than throwing darts randomly at the EU board, these barbs are delivered with Phil Taylor like accuracy at the ludicrous fundamentals built i Although written before Brexit it is impossible to read this book without adding the post-Brexit filter to the text. Colours have been firmly tied to one of two masts, they being leave or remain - leavers will find much in this book they agree with and remainers will suffer inconvenient reminders of the flaws in the EU monetary system. However, this is more than throwing darts randomly at the EU board, these barbs are delivered with Phil Taylor like accuracy at the ludicrous fundamentals built into the EU and more specifically the eurozone. The deficit-phobia, the "rescue" packages of struggling states and the ever menacing shadow of fascism in the background, drawing post-Versailles parallels with post-crash Europe. Varoufakis is too cute to write a "tear down the walls" manifesto though. What he actually cries out for is a closer political Europe, a federal one that can squeeze itself out of the narrow national boundaries and self interest each member is still wedded to. That France will accept it's role as underdog and Germany accept it's responsibilities as the location of the central bank, with not onkybits trade surplus but it's political surplus too. At times it makes difficult reading but the three themes of Bretton Woods, Volcker Shock and the 2008 sub prime crash are shown to be more connected that we realised and how opportunities for change keep passing the European elite by - Brexit has to be included in this and perhaps is the wake up call the EU needs to be better, though a full federal united states would be even harder to convince publics of than monetary union.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jake

    "When people begin anticipating inflation, it doesn't do you any good anymore, because any benefit of inflation comes from the fact that you do better than you thought you were going to do." ~ Paul Volcker How was it that while the United States went from 12% to 5% unemployment whilst Europe stayed steady at 12% unemployment? Yanis tries to answer that in this book. For a marxist he uses all tools at his disposal and doesn't allow his ideology to get in the way of a rigorous yet exciting assessme "When people begin anticipating inflation, it doesn't do you any good anymore, because any benefit of inflation comes from the fact that you do better than you thought you were going to do." ~ Paul Volcker How was it that while the United States went from 12% to 5% unemployment whilst Europe stayed steady at 12% unemployment? Yanis tries to answer that in this book. For a marxist he uses all tools at his disposal and doesn't allow his ideology to get in the way of a rigorous yet exciting assessment of the post-war neoliberal world we find ourselves in. Yanis should be more famous for his work at Valve as their inhouse economist who helped them establish their online marketplace but sadly he's more famous for his short stint as finance minister of Greece. He's essentially the guy who came up with much of the formal framework for how Valve's digital marketplace for hats and cosmetic items work. It's revolutionized that industry. I don't know how much I buy his predictions but Yanis's analysis on the past is worth the read. "It is an honour to have Bild trying to undermine me. The more they do it, the better I sleep at night." ~ Yanis Varoufakis

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tariq Mahmood

    The book has been a revelation for me. I was a staunch supporter for Remain campaign but Yanis has explained EU in a manner which has blown quite a few holes in my delusional scented 'Remain' garden. The main reason is the juxtaposition of EU with US, and the fact that there is no political control of Euro with the politicians, rather all the control lies with technocrats, effectively making Europe run like a huge corporation. Which makes sense explaining the treatment meted out to the PIGS (Por The book has been a revelation for me. I was a staunch supporter for Remain campaign but Yanis has explained EU in a manner which has blown quite a few holes in my delusional scented 'Remain' garden. The main reason is the juxtaposition of EU with US, and the fact that there is no political control of Euro with the politicians, rather all the control lies with technocrats, effectively making Europe run like a huge corporation. Which makes sense explaining the treatment meted out to the PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece & Spain) after the 2008 Credit Crunch catastrophy. Yanis also makes another important analogy, with the Versailles Treaty which resulted in the rise of the Third Riche and the austerity imposed on the PIGS countries. Dark times ahead for Europe?

  19. 4 out of 5

    Philip Girvan

    A compelling account of the global financial system. Varoufakis details the emergence of the Bretton Woods system, its shortcomings, and the Nixon administration's fateful decision to end it. He also details the growth of the industrial cartel that becomes the European Union, and makes explicit how differently the EU functions from a federal union like the USA. Varoufakis is a solid historian and a enjoyable storyteller. I certainly came away from the book with a better understanding of the EU's s A compelling account of the global financial system. Varoufakis details the emergence of the Bretton Woods system, its shortcomings, and the Nixon administration's fateful decision to end it. He also details the growth of the industrial cartel that becomes the European Union, and makes explicit how differently the EU functions from a federal union like the USA. Varoufakis is a solid historian and a enjoyable storyteller. I certainly came away from the book with a better understanding of the EU's structural deficiencies, as well as the factors that contributed to Germany's post-war rise, the UK's reluctance to get too involved with the whole project, and Greece's financial collapse.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Cara

    A look at the implications of good intentions, bad intentions and totally misguided intentions, for post World War II Europe -  and a particularly salient read in this current climate. This is a well researched book, lots of information mostly clearly written. It did get particular wordy in places, and not completely linear in history... so didn't really work as pre bedtime reading for me, worthy of more concentration! But it is an eye opening book as to just how messy the politics of politics a A look at the implications of good intentions, bad intentions and totally misguided intentions, for post World War II Europe -  and a particularly salient read in this current climate. This is a well researched book, lots of information mostly clearly written. It did get particular wordy in places, and not completely linear in history... so didn't really work as pre bedtime reading for me, worthy of more concentration! But it is an eye opening book as to just how messy the politics of politics and finance can be...

  21. 4 out of 5

    Coral Davies

    "Europe's celebrated banking union lives in name only, while in reality and in practice its banking disunion is as toxic as ever. Ultimate proof of this came in my last weeks in office as Greece's finance minister, when the ECB closed down the Greek banks even though, in its capacity as the banking union's sole supervisor, it considered them to be solvent. What sort of banking union allows the closure of banks it considers solvent in order to pressurise a member state government to accept more f "Europe's celebrated banking union lives in name only, while in reality and in practice its banking disunion is as toxic as ever. Ultimate proof of this came in my last weeks in office as Greece's finance minister, when the ECB closed down the Greek banks even though, in its capacity as the banking union's sole supervisor, it considered them to be solvent. What sort of banking union allows the closure of banks it considers solvent in order to pressurise a member state government to accept more fiscal austerity, more pension cuts, higher scale taxes and the like?" In short the answer is the Euro. This book is a scathing indictment of the monetary union in Europe. It makes bold accusations that the whole system is built on whats known as 'fair-weather trading', a system that exploits poorer, weaker economies by flooding them with surplus produce from stronger, more stable countries, while simultaneously encouraging the borrowing of large scale loans in order to buy up this surplus produce. This is a system doomed to inevitable failure as we saw in 2008 and 2012, when the bubbles popped and debt became unmanageable. Yanis enthusiastically lambastes the technocrats in charge in Frankfurt and Brussels, accusing them of sacrificing his countries economy and future in its desperation to adhere stringently to the Maastricht Treaty and frighten other nations on the verge of toppling (see Italy, Spain, Portugal - and France is not long behind them) to obey the rules and regulations of the EU or be subject to interference from the Troika. The EUs answer to everything is austerity, austerity or even worse austerity. The problem with that is not only effects the countries within the EU but also without. It stagnates economies forcing countries to take out even greater loans that they will be unable to pay back and the cycle continues, banks and governments in a death grip, spinning into the abyss. By having a common currency all counties have to take on the burdens of their partners failing economies, forcing their economies to fail (see Ireland!). So, after all that, you would think that Yanis would be in steadfast opposition to the EU and the union. But he is not. Just the common currency, the suffocating grip of the Maastricht Treaty and the fear and damage caused by the International Monetary Fund. He has ideas, he has solutions, but at the moment, none in Brussels or Frankfurt are willing to listen. Lets hope they eventually un-stopper their ears before its too late. Thanks to their behaviour (and yes, many other nuanced reasons) Britain has voted to leave the EU. Rising nationalism and racism is spreading throughout Europe (see Greece and France to name but a few) and this is inextricably linked to the way the EU has chosen to operate. They function under the guise that criticism of the EU is in itself anti-European and therefore racist, which has allowed them to ignore reasonable arguments whenever they arise. This means the EU has not moved forward but sits in an echo-chamber, loudly congratulating itself in a continuous loop. A fantastic, insightful read that is thoroughly researched and contemplated. Many accuse Yanis of arrogance but I think he is far from that. He is passionate, knowledgeable and has hope for the future. This is the first economics book I have read and it has made me hungry for more. I found the writing accessible and would recommend it to anyone who has interest but no background in economics.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Vikas Erraballi

    Likeable. Don't get why he has so many haters. Must sound different in person.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Simon

    Reading this reminded me quite a bit of my experience of reading A Brief History of Time. The first bit is mostly about history, and that I really enjoyed. Varoufakis' command of European history is impressive, and the way he weaves events together to present his economic argument is done with great skill. Throughout this he never hides his immediate left-wing bias with phrases like "Brussels based technocrats", and so reminds the reader that his history may need some fact-checking. Varoufakis the Reading this reminded me quite a bit of my experience of reading A Brief History of Time. The first bit is mostly about history, and that I really enjoyed. Varoufakis' command of European history is impressive, and the way he weaves events together to present his economic argument is done with great skill. Throughout this he never hides his immediate left-wing bias with phrases like "Brussels based technocrats", and so reminds the reader that his history may need some fact-checking. Varoufakis then begins his journey into the ether of European economics, and holding my hand I was pleased how much I understood, up to a certain point. As with Stephen Hawking there is just a point where I see red, and lose track with all the ECB and ECF and other abbreviations. This may be more of a criticism of Europe's convoluted economic systems than Varoufakis' explanation of it. The book is highly important, especially for Brit about to be faced with a historic decision as to what to vote next month. And whether he is right or not, Varoufakis is an important voice to listen and I'm glad I've given such an insightful man the time and space to say his piece.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Highly recommended for anyone wishing to understand global developments since the 2008 market crash. I read this book after a prolonged, targeted binge of reading to help me better what had understand what had happened in the 2016 US Presidential Election. I thought this book was "after" that project, but after reading it, I discovered it was the culmination. Varoufakis outlines the depths of the crisis and the generally inadequate tools brought to bear, which needlessly prolonged the crisis and Highly recommended for anyone wishing to understand global developments since the 2008 market crash. I read this book after a prolonged, targeted binge of reading to help me better what had understand what had happened in the 2016 US Presidential Election. I thought this book was "after" that project, but after reading it, I discovered it was the culmination. Varoufakis outlines the depths of the crisis and the generally inadequate tools brought to bear, which needlessly prolonged the crisis and opened the doors to fascism. Very disheartening for those of us who might be looking to Europe and Merkel's Germany as the last bastion of democracy. The economic roots of the populists right's successes are revealed in this book. The book is principally concerned with Europe and offers very helpful history and background on the Euro and the European Union.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Pedro L. Fragoso

    My take is that it is an extraordinary book (“extraordinary”, as in: extraordinarily good). It is a serious, profound, solidly based, well-articulated reflection on one of the most fundamental issues, probably the most fundamental issue, of an increasingly messed-up European Union and what avenues can be still explored to salvage the “monetary union” project. That of all the people that throughout the years have served on the Central Bank and as Finance Ministers of all the governments of all the My take is that it is an extraordinary book (“extraordinary”, as in: extraordinarily good). It is a serious, profound, solidly based, well-articulated reflection on one of the most fundamental issues, probably the most fundamental issue, of an increasingly messed-up European Union and what avenues can be still explored to salvage the “monetary union” project. That of all the people that throughout the years have served on the Central Bank and as Finance Ministers of all the governments of all the countries involved in the creation and managing of the Euro, the first cogent, intelligent, articulated presentation of the challenges at play is this book by a former Finance Minister of Greece still seems to me hard to grasp, but I should probably not be surprised. During the reading of the book, as I got increasingly respectfully of the intellectual prowess of the author, and of the relevance of the analysis, I explored the available reviews, namely in the MSM. All of them were essentially about the author and perfunctorily about the arguments on the text, and as the author is supposedly (I do not know him and since as a matter of principle, I do not believe in what I see in mainstream TV or read on the MSM, I don’t know) an arrogant, self-centered, statist academic, i.e., someone who incites little sympathy (or who has been construed to incite little sympathy; I really don’t know; from the paragraphs and pages in the book where Varoufakis speaks about himself and his interactions when minister, I’d say he did transpired as a bit of an arrogant and self-centered statist intellectual, which he is obviously fully entitled to be, if that’s the case), the reviews were systematically unfavorable. I’m always astonished with the stupidity of judging creative or intellectual work, that must be judged for itself, as being some mystical integral part of a human being that is not in the damn picture, as the thing stands for itself, and has furthermore to be reduced per someone’s normally unsubstantiated simplification of said human being. But I digress. There is something deeply rotten at the core of the European Union, and it gets manifested thus: “A deficit country (e.g., France) operating within a monetary union with a surplus country (like Germany) cannot avoid a capital flight the moment the monetary union is hit by a crisis. At the slightest hint that the monetary union may dissolve, and that the two countries will re-create their national currencies, anticipating a devaluation of the deficit country’s money, savers prefer to take their cash out of the banks of the deficit country and transfer it to some bank in the surplus country. Thus money emigrates en masse from the deficit to the surplus country, economic activity in the deficit country wanes and, as a result, the deficit country’s tax revenues fall and its national budget goes increasingly into the red. This is the reason why the euro crisis put France’s national budget under increasing strain.” There are no actual safeguards, only lots of empty talk. Also: “While it would have been straightforward, and perfectly legal, to allow Irish banks or the Greek state to default to their private creditors (so as to respect the no-bailout clause), the authorities’ guilty desire to bail out the German and French banks (without telling taxpayers that this was what they were doing) led to the need to violate the no-bailout rule by concocting another rule: the no-default rule, which was never part of Europe’s original set of rules.” And “both the freshly minted no-default rule and the original no-bailout clause were political whims of the strong disguised as legal constraints upon the weak. In reality, the strong break their rules at will and concoct new rules whenever they think it suits them; in brief, it is now clear that Europe’s religious dedication to rules is nothing but a veil under which the strong make up the rules as they go along to suit their own political agenda. Perhaps that would be fine if the said agenda was not quick-marching Europe and the global economy into an economic, political and moral morass." We get: “In a move that will remain in Irish annals as a stigma comparable to the potato famine, the Dublin government succumbed to ECB blackmail: make the German creditors of Ireland’s commercial banks whole, even a bank that was closed down and thus no longer systemically important for Ireland’s financial sector, or else.” Also: “In the first Greek bailout, of May 2010, Europe’s ridiculously hard line toward Greece was no to a haircut, no to debt relief, yes to a huge loan (worth 110 billion euros) with high interest rates. The only beneficiaries were, of course, the beneficiaries that the bailout had been designed to benefit: French and German banks. Once their losses were averted, Brussels and Frankfurt began to plan for the inevitable haircut that would hit small, Greek bondholders and, tragically, the Greek pension funds whose charter obliged them to hold their capital in Greek government bonds. So a second bailout, which included a haircut for the weak, was ratified fully by the spring of 2012.” “But this was not a bailout. Greece was never bailed out. Nor were the rest of Europe’s swine—or PIIGS as Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain became collectively branded. Greece’s bailout, then Ireland’s, then Portugal’s, then Spain’s were rescue packages for, primarily, French and German banks. In bending its rules to rescue the PIIGS’s private banks (with the issue of the aforementioned IOUs), the ECB had given Chancellor Merkel and France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy some respite from having to go back to their parliaments for more taxpayers’ money for French and German bankers. But much more was now needed." In reality, “a cynical ploy that transferred hundreds of billions of losses from the books of the French and German banks to Europe’s taxpayers was presented to the world as the manifestation of European solidarity. What makes this transfer sinister, rather than just cynical, was that the Greek loan came not only from French and German taxpayers but also from the Portuguese, the Slovaks, the Irish taxpayers—from countries whose banks had nothing to gain. In essence, the private losses of French and German banks were spread around throughout the eurozone, forcing even the weakest citizens of the weakest of member-states to chip in.” “In other words, the uninsured private bankers had to be bailed out illegally and utterly unethically. But the taxpayers who were forced to carry that can should not even be given better terms for repaying the odious, private debt they were forced to acquire in order to bail the bankers out.” In the end we get what “German philosopher Jürgen Habermas identified long ago, that capitalism has a tendency to develop a “legitimacy deficit”; that is, a situation in which citizens, independently of their political beliefs or ideology, lose confidence in the right of political and administrative authorities to act as they do. As Europeans lose their trust in Europe’s institutions, they are being lured into a dreadful Faustian bargain: accept less democracy now, more centralization tomorrow and, in the future, you may be getting something akin to a federal state. Alas, accepting this deal will not bring federation any closer. Instead, it will replace whatever democracy we have left at the national level with consultative processes that Brussels uses in order to cement a permanent commitment to deflationary, highly redistributive policies (in favor, primarily, of banks and, reliably, of the strong and already powerful)." The book has a lot more, almost all of it very good, even if most is necessarily revolting, and all of it relevant. We need more books like this one. I particularly liked these considerations: “This section ought to be superfluous. The fact that it is not reflects badly on a world that seems to have forgotten the minimum requirements for a functioning liberal democracy.” “As Tony Benn, the British Labour politician, once suggested, we should constantly ask those who govern us five questions: What power have you got? Where did you get it from? In whose interests do you exercise it? To whom are you accountable? And how can we get rid of you?” “To put it slightly differently, small sovereign nations, like Iceland, have choices to make within the broader constraints created for them by nature and by the rest of humanity. However limited these choices might be, Iceland’s body politic retains absolute authority to hold their elected officials accountable for the decisions they have reached within the nation’s exogenous constraints, and to strike down every piece of legislation that it has decided upon in the past. (…) In this sense, small, powerless Iceland continues to enjoy full sovereignty while the comparatively omnipotent European Union has been stripped of all forms of sovereignty.” “But is there really no difference between a federation and an “alliance of states” or the “Europe of nations”? Of course there is. And it is the difference between democracy and despotism.” “And so it turns out that all talk of gradual moves toward a political union and toward “more Europe” are not first steps toward a European democratic federation but, rather, and ominously, a leap into an iron cage that prolongs the crisis and wrecks any prospect of a genuine federal European democracy in the future.” “Fixing exchange rates between disparate economic regions always brings benefits in the short term. But it resembles past invasions of Russia: a brisk beginning full of enthusiasm and hope, rapid progress that seems unstoppable, followed by a heart-wrenching slowdown as a Cruel Winter takes its toll, ending up with blood on the snow and ceaseless retributions thereafter.” “This leaves us with two possibilities: a breakup or a proper federation. The problem is that too much political capital has been invested to allow for a velvet divorce while, at once, the euro crisis is creating so many animosities among European peoples that a proper federation could not be more utopian than at present.” “Few progressive Europeans would argue against a democratic United States of Europe, with a proper government elected on a pan-European ticket and answerable to a proper parliament vested with complete sovereignty over all decisions and matters. But this is pure wishful thinking. The sobering reality is that it is not in the European Union’s DNA naturally to evolve into a federation.” “A dark continent that once produced so much light now exports bleakness and recession to the rest of the world.” “Europe has twice already in the past hundred years dragged the planet down into appalling quagmires. It can do so again. Europe (as the New Dealers understood in the 1940s) is too important to leave to us Europeans. The whole world has a stake in a victory for rationality, liberty, democracy and humanism in the birthplace of those ideas.” There is ample settling of accounts (mostly brilliant), as is the case here: “Moreover, the Eurogroup, where all the important economic decisions are taken, is a body that does not even exist in European law, that operates on the basis that the “strong do as they please while the weak suffer what they must,” that keeps no minutes of its procedures and whose only rule is that its deliberations are confidential; that is, not to be shared with Europe’s citizenry. Put bluntly, it is a setup designed to preclude any sovereignty traceable back to the people of Europe.” The book includes the best paragraphs on the follies of QE that I’ve read anywhere. Sample: “To cut a long story short, a great deal of believing must occur before QE delivers on its promise to boost the real economy. But given the state of self-confirming pessimism that prevails in the depths of a severe crisis, to expect that these beliefs will flood into the different agents’ minds at once is to believe in miracles. More likely, as we witnessed in Japan and in America, where QE was tried out with a vengeance, banks tend to lend the monies conjured up by the central bank not to other banks or to Jack and Jill but to companies. Except that these companies do not invest the borrowed money in machinery and workers, fearful that the demand will not be there for extra output produced. No, what they do is to buy back their own shares in the stock market in order to increase their shares’ price and collect a nice bonus for having “added value to the company.” While this process does boost, to some extent, high-end house prices and the demand for luxuries, the only genuine beneficiary is gross inequality.” Of course, the ultimate solutions envisioned by Varoufakis comprise more state, ever more state, and the continuation of the system of fractional reserve fiat money (with occasional debt jubilees, I say). We know how that works, of course (i.e., doesn’t work, let me clarify just in case), but then nobody will let capitalism work, and certainly a left-wing academic is not whom we would turn to, to defend capitalism (that would be David Stockman, for instance, and nobody’s paying him any attention anyway). That doesn’t diminish the extraordinary accomplishment achieved with this book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Mariella

    This was definitely alot more dense than Global Minotaur. I read entire pages I could not for the life of me understand because I did terrible in my economics required 101 classes. But what I could understand was mind blowing. The EU monetary system pretty much owned by Germany refused to bail out countries Greece and Ireland because they have a no bailout clause in the Euro standard, but because the people who were owed money were hedge fund German banks and other lifeless bloodsucking money ma This was definitely alot more dense than Global Minotaur. I read entire pages I could not for the life of me understand because I did terrible in my economics required 101 classes. But what I could understand was mind blowing. The EU monetary system pretty much owned by Germany refused to bail out countries Greece and Ireland because they have a no bailout clause in the Euro standard, but because the people who were owed money were hedge fund German banks and other lifeless bloodsucking money managers from those same countries, they gave a workaround bailout because they knew their money would come right back to the bank foisting the EU monetary system. Its the 2008 crisis from an european perspective and incredibly interesting and informative. But deserves a second read and economics dictionary to get everything.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Luke

    A curious history of the EU and Eurozone culminating in the ongoing (10 years!) global banking crisis. Told almost exclusively through the lens of international finance and central banks, repeatedly emphasizing the structural imbalances always destined to make the Euro fail as long as there is a technocratic cartel lacking democratic political control over the value of money between surplus and deficit states. Plenty of digs at particular individuals and institutions from the 70s through those V A curious history of the EU and Eurozone culminating in the ongoing (10 years!) global banking crisis. Told almost exclusively through the lens of international finance and central banks, repeatedly emphasizing the structural imbalances always destined to make the Euro fail as long as there is a technocratic cartel lacking democratic political control over the value of money between surplus and deficit states. Plenty of digs at particular individuals and institutions from the 70s through those Varoufakis met with in his short term as finance minster of Greece attempting to negotiate a writedown of Greek debt rather than holding future Greek society liable for German and French bankers flagrant dismissal of risk or stability in pursuit of leverage.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Max Hristov

    Could be a bit more clear when he gets his points across especially about Bretton Woods, but overall a fantastic analytical piece. Though I was inclined to disagree at first, choosing to accept the easy explanation about the Greek Problem, Varoufakis really points out what actually was the root cause and how we can avoid it. I also greatly enjoyed his approach of using history and offering a side of events not really mentioned in the news. Varoufakis really has become one of my favourite academi Could be a bit more clear when he gets his points across especially about Bretton Woods, but overall a fantastic analytical piece. Though I was inclined to disagree at first, choosing to accept the easy explanation about the Greek Problem, Varoufakis really points out what actually was the root cause and how we can avoid it. I also greatly enjoyed his approach of using history and offering a side of events not really mentioned in the news. Varoufakis really has become one of my favourite academics, really looking forward to reading more of him.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Rafaella

    A must-read for anyone who wants to understand how capitalism tends toward crisis, how the DNA of the EU makes it wholly unable to overcome crisis (and in fact makes it worse), and how what was primarily a crisis in French and German banks was transformed into a 'sovereign debt crisis' in which Europe's periphery (Greece, Portugal, etc) and working poor throughout Europe were made to suffer the brunt. The book is still so relevant as the Eurozone's absurd contradictions have yet to be resolved, A must-read for anyone who wants to understand how capitalism tends toward crisis, how the DNA of the EU makes it wholly unable to overcome crisis (and in fact makes it worse), and how what was primarily a crisis in French and German banks was transformed into a 'sovereign debt crisis' in which Europe's periphery (Greece, Portugal, etc) and working poor throughout Europe were made to suffer the brunt. The book is still so relevant as the Eurozone's absurd contradictions have yet to be resolved, and the rise of Nazi and far-right parties which Varoufakis observes has only gotten worse.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Vannessa

    A really interesting overview of the origins of the Eurozone, post war European economic history and subsequent developments. Varoufakis highlights how the creation and running of the European monetary union has been deeply undemocratic and consisted of shonky architecture not designed to withstand economic crises once the United States is unable to absorb extra capacity, capital, goods and services produced by Europe, Japan and China following the 2008 financial crisis. The best parts are those A really interesting overview of the origins of the Eurozone, post war European economic history and subsequent developments. Varoufakis highlights how the creation and running of the European monetary union has been deeply undemocratic and consisted of shonky architecture not designed to withstand economic crises once the United States is unable to absorb extra capacity, capital, goods and services produced by Europe, Japan and China following the 2008 financial crisis. The best parts are those that relate directly to his experiences as finance minister of Greece. His proposed solutions to rescue Europe from underinvestment, poverty, currency crisis and debt are worth reading and pondering.

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