The day after we arrived in Greece for a vacation, they
The leftist Syriza party won, propelling Alexis Tsipras into the office of Prime Minister. With no delay, Mr. Tsipras appointed Yanis Varoufakis as the new Finance Minister for Greece.
Before that week was over, these two men were visiting national leaders all over Europe. They were abruptly leaping into the Continental fracas of unbalanced financial equilibrium between their bankrupting government and the Euro creditor overlords up north.
Messers T and V immediately let it be known that their negotiating strategy on behalf of the Greek people would be very different from that of their predecessors. Austerity was not working to solve the problem, and would no longer be tolerated by the poor people of Greece. And it was time to acknowledge that fact. Something had to change.
That was about 3 and a half months ago. Now, in May 2015, the then-newly-appointed finance minister Mr. Varoufakis has already been replaced; he is now moving on to other roles in the international order of things (if "order" is an appropriate word for whatever it is that holds our nations together.)
As I write this, on a Sunday morning in May, in the USA, I am 2/3 of the way through reading Mr. Varoufakis' book The Global Minotaur;
I can tell you I am not surprised that his role as a negotiator was so brief. The man is a truth-teller. (of the leftist type; there are truth-tellers on both the "left" and the "right".)
As a regular ole conservative-leaning working-stiff kind of guy, I've done quite a bit of reading on this financial Crisis that has engulfed us since the fall of '08. Mr. V's explanation of that 6-year devolving tsunami is the easiest to understand that I have seen.
Yanis' strategy is centered on what we call these days a narrative. That is to say, a kind of story. He converts the whole unfolding circus of events into a story based upon the ancient Greek mythical tale of a terrible flesh-devouring beast, the Minotaur. If this sounds far-fetched, it is.
My conservative brethren these days disdain the narrative approach to elucidating current events; they prefer, as Sgt. Friday used to say back in the day. . . just the facts, ma'am.
As if such a thing--separating facts from fluffy hype--were possible in this day and time of cyber bewilderment. Even statistics, raw numbers, are near-nonsense nowadays; they're almost useless for making sense of contemporary fiscal/financial conundrums.
One has to survive by intuition in the 21st century.
There's "spin" imposed on everything! Consider the unemployment figures that the BLS cranks out every month. Talking heads await those stupid numbers on the first Friday of every month, so they can have something to talk about, forming projections and predictions about future events based on stuff that already happened last month. Looking for the "trend."
To hell with the trend! What's the truth?
Unemployment rate, or Labor participation rate?--you tell me which one really tells the tale.
It's like the CPI, Consumer Price Index. They leave fuel and food costs out of the equation, when those two factors comprise the biggest impact on every "middle class" household budget. Go figure.
But I digress.
Here's this lefty, Mr. Varoufakis, an economist. He writes a very interesting book, using the Minotaur analogy narrative, and helps me understand what the hell has been happening in the world of money, which is to say the real world.
And though he claims to be some kind of neo-Marxist, I don't care. If some conservative can do a better job of explaining why the free market has been buried under a landfill of toxic assets and leveraged finance-babel, let him/her do so.
I've blown my wad here in ranting, which is something I hate to see in other blatherers online, so I'll not weary you with more of this grievance;
I'll not explain the Greek's minotaurial metaphor. Except to say it involves the global recycling of economic surpluses since the post-WWII Bretton Woods financial arrangement that slanted everything in the world toward American advantage.
But now, since 1971, when Nixon shut down the gold window, all of that US-favoring international baggage has been lost in an airport somewhere between Brussels and Beijing and so the great recycling flow of surpluses has reversed. So that now it morphs into recycling deficits instead of surpluses and the winners will someday be losers and vice versa and so austerity is for the birds and now Mr. V thinks the Bretton Woods potentates should have listened to Mr. Keynes in 1944 instead of Harry Dexter White.
Or something like that. More about this later, probably next week after I finish the book. I suppose I'll have to jump over to Hayek or Schumpeter or Mr. Volcker for some right-leaning controlled financial disintegration explanations after this tragi-comedic death-toggle with Greek mythology.