by Jerry Alatalo
rofessor of Economic Theory at the University of Athens Yanis Varoufakis talks on RT’s “Boom Bust” about his decision to run for Parliament with the Syriza Party. When asked by the female interviewer whether current circumstances in Greece can lead to lasting growth, Mr. Varoufakis replied “absolutely not”.
When asked why he entered Greek politics, he tells the show’s host that after submitting economic proposals to improve the economic situation in Greece for five years, Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras invited him to join the government and implement his proposals and policies – even though he “dreaded” the idea. He points out that in the last four years his proposals have become endorsed by a number of former Prime Ministers, Presidents and others.
As far as Greece exiting the Eurozone, Varoufakis sees it now as an impossibility for the simple reason the nation hasn’t printed any drachmas – Greece’s currency before joining the EU and adopting the Euro, and that a significant amount of planning and time would be needed to return to the old Greek currency. Any serious consideration by Syriza leaders of leaving the Eurozone, should they win the upcoming January 25 elections and take power, could hinge on decisions made by the “Troika” (European Commission, European Central Bank, International Monetary Fund) in response to Syriza’s requests for renegotiation and/or write-down of the national debt of Greece.
Mr. Varoufakis sees public debt, the banks and under-investment as the three primary issues the government must deal with. The Troika may decide to “play hardball” and deny a potential Syriza government its debt restructuring proposals, which could lead other Eurozone nations like Spain, Italy, Ireland, France and others demanding the same deals. Some analysts of the Greek economic situation feel that the source of tension between Greeks, Spaniards, Italians, Irish and other Eurozone state populations and the Troika is that more men and women living in the EU have reacted to destructive austerity measures by sharing the view that interests of a small group in the financial sector are given top priority to the great detriment of social conditions.
Mr. Varoufakis wrote recently: “My greatest fear, now that I have tossed my hat in the ring, is that I may turn into a politician. As an antidote to that virus I intend to write my resignation letter and keep it in my inside pocket, ready to submit it the moment I sense signs of losing commitment to speak truth to power”.
He explains that fear by distinguishing between normal discussions between people where the agreed upon point is to learn from each other, as opposed to politicians who focus on harming each other. He thinks the Eurozone was badly constructed, has resulted in great harm to societal conditions across Europe, and that many have come finally to acknowledge that what he calls “Ponzi Austerity” – moving from bad to worse levels of increasingly destructive, endless austerity – needs universal rethinking.
He sees the Eurozone as a place where nation-states are playing a game of pretend by not acknowledging the systemic deficiencies of an economic model which has extreme flaws when it comes to realizing positive results.
For Greece in particular, but implying the same for all economically struggling EU states, Varoufakis has coined the phrase “fiscal waterboarding of Greece”, a practice which Syriza says must end, and believes Greece, by electing Syriza to power, offers an opportunity for new hope and possible transformation of the Eurozone from a place consisting of nation/state “model prisoners” to one of prosperity, growth and better health and well-being for the people.
Finally, economic theory Professor Yanis Varouflakis sums up his feelings about the future: “My heart is hopeful, but my mind is pessimistic”. The days ahead leading up to the January 25 Greek elections – and the days, weeks, months and years after them – should certainly continue to generate international interest. Wonder if those old drachma printing presses are still lying around in an Athens warehouse somewhere.
(Thank you to Boom Bust on YouTube)