Yanis has left the building

elvis out

This blog has become a focal point for criticism of Yanis Varoufakis, ever since things started to take a turn for the strange in March (see here for relevant post). I have followed closely the actions and statements of Yani since the January election (and read his work), frequently posting comments on his blog. I have to say here that I greatly appreciate the fact that Yani’s blog posts critical comments and allows a free(ish) discussion.

In response to one of his latest comments (see here), I posted my disappointment in Yani’s failure to take into account warnings, including my own

Sending Yani open letters does not work. If he hadn’t ignored mine (https://iglinavos.wordpress.com/2015/04/21/basta-yani-the-good-fight-has-been-fought-but-it-is-time-to-stop/ ) things would have turned out better for everyone.

This prompted the following response by Dimitris Yannopoulos (Varoufaki’s press officer while he was in office)

iGlinavos,

I don’t think Yanis ignored it and, given the time of writing (April 2015), your letter was quite topical and poignant – prophetic even.

But your argument made the “dilemma”, arising from the creditors’ refusal to budge, even more untenable than that which Yani thought he faced at the end of June:

“Sign on the dotted line” or brace for catastrophic “Rupture”, which he “didn’t have a mandate for”.

Indeed, you posed the dilemma facing “the people” at that “early” stage, in no less fatalistic terms:
“The people must choose whether to become a German protectorate to maintain a semblance of normality, or to revert to emerging economy norms with living standards akin to 1970s. There are no good choices here, but the choice is not yours to make.”

No wonder the choice you recommended to Yanis in your April “letter”, was almost identical to the cowardly cop-out stance taken by George Papandreou in late November 2011, which, BTW, so enraged the “Merkozy axis” that they swiftly brought up the illegal “Grexit option” for the first time – after publicly vilifying and humiliating GAP at Cannes:

“Sign, live to fight another day and call an election so those who face this horrible choice get to make it”.

In other words, bow to the creditors’ diktat to win their favour and save your hide “to fight another day”. But afterwards, feel free to give Merkozy the “finger” and leave the “horrible choice” to the people whose mandate you had just betrayed with your signature.

BTW, this shows why Tsipras’ decision to go for a referendum on July 5 without signing anything, was the honourable and prudent thing to do, declaring beforehand his intention to resign only in case of a YES vote.

But was that really the dilemma which Yanis confronted back in April, i.e. at “midterm” of the loan agreement’s 4-month extension?

No way. Nevertheless, you’re right, neither he nor Tsipras had a direct mandate for “Rupture” – meaning default and Grexit.

But the question is, did the “other side” in the “negotiation” set-up (the German-led Eurogroup/ECB/IMF Axis) have a mandate – let alone a right – to breach their February 20 Eurogroup Decision and launch an Act of War against Greece, which they actually declared (or “confessed” in no uncertain terms, to test Greek reactions) in mid-March?

They even gave this Hostile Act a name reminiscent of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo: “Credit Asphyxiation” (by means of multiple ECB/BoG/ELA liquidity caps), threatening Athens with domestic default, slow-motion bank run and ultimately bank closure, i.e. the gradual implosion of the Greek economy that lasted four full months before the ECB resorted to a total ELA liquidity support ban on June 28.

Was there no other moderate, legitimate and timely reaction to such a reckless “crime against humanity”, as Yanis called it, than Sampson’s “Rupture” or a continuation of the negotiation charade?

To make the culprits think twice before bringing an economically ravaged country to its knees, all that was needed was the mere threat of a unanimous Appeal signed by all Greek Parliament MPs as well as Euro-MPs, parliament parties, the Prime Minister, the House Speaker and the Greek President, to their counterparts in the Euro-Parliament, European national parliaments, the European Court of Justice, the International Court at The Hague, the UN General Assembly, the UN Security Council or – why not? – the Self-Righteous Holy German Constitutional Court.

The Appeal would call for an immediate injunction and/or protection from historically unprecedented forms of blackmail against a helpless European nation deprived of all monetary “defense policy” instruments.

The Appeal could also have requested the EZ bailout “negotiations” to be placed under the aegis of any or all of the aforementioned institutions, especially the Conference of European Parliament Presidents that thrice attempted to assume that role but was vetoed each time by EP president Martin Schulz.

Now, thanks to the much maligned audacity of House Speaker Zoe Konstantopoulou, who formally denounced them before a Greek Parliament plenum, neither the Act of War, nor the subsequent Acts of blackmail, ultimatum, coup d’etat or the fresh troika MoU carnage etc. have been irrevocably legitimised by the Greek Assembly – leaving enough room for their summary annulment at a future date.

But their implicit legitimization for no less than four months was a real and major – if not the only – cause of the Greek negotiation failure.

Now, I never much believed various conspiracy theories presenting Varoufakis as a dangerous lunatic surrounded by fanatics. Nonetheless, comments such as the above are forcing me to reconsider.

What do Varoufakis and Yannopoulos think they are dealing with? While the rest of us are trying to think about the future of the country and the survival of the Greek population, Syriza members such as the above seem to be engaged in some sort of exercise in nationalism and ideological blindness.

I have been there Mr Yannopoulos. When I was a young student (in Essex Uni of all places) I used to go to Socialist Worker meetings. I stopped going when it became obvious to me that the creation of a ‘just’ society required the obliteration of the existing society. It seems that Syriza has not escaped the teachings of KNE (Greek communist youth) that society can only be reformed by razing it to the ground.

Yanis Varoufakis will not be the Greek Pol Pot.

Whether the latest reports of fantastical plans to secretly prepare for the drachma are true or not (see the summary by Dixon here), we now know enough to stay clear of Prof. Varoufakis and his comrades in the future.

paste-comedy-varoufakis-memes-breaking-bad

@iGlinavos

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19 thoughts on “Yanis has left the building

  1. Life is hard for left-wing politicians without a money printing press.

    I’ve summarized my understanding of Varounomics on my blog (warning: I’m not a professor of economic theory)
    https://erikdesonville.wordpress.com/2015/07/26/varounomics-101/

    All the finance hi-tech thinking around the Greek crisis is dragging the attention away from the REAL challenge: how can the Greek economy be made more efficient and competitive. Actually that’s the only way towards sustainable welfare.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. mikenetherlands says:

    Ahhh. I recognize the movement SYRIZA. All the time I had the feeling this is an sentimental journey. It is a English/Greeck branch of our “Provo movement” (search in Google) from the mid-1960s in Amsterdam. The Bungehuis and Maagdenhuis occupations, the red book of Mao, Che Guevara, Cuba, East-Germany and all other nonsens like saying kammerad ….

    A bit old fashion. How is it possible, a movement that died in the late seventies, got en stick in the minds from a few Greek students! You are not very original, gentleman…

    Like

  3. ‘What do Varoufakis and Yannopoulos think they are dealing with?”

    The same thing that Shahin Vallée, a former adviser to the French economy minister and the president of the European Council, and I think they are dealing with:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/07/28/opinion/how-the-greek-deal-could-destroy-the-euro.html

    [video src="http://www.omfif.org/media/1067578/omfif-telephone-briefing-greece-and-europe-after-the-brussels-debt-agreement-yanis-varoufakis-16-july.mp4" /]

    Like

  4. mikenetherlands says:

    I shall tell you an little story. My father was an well known professor. Our neighbor was an MP, Karel van Rijckevorsel, came one day to our house, together with Jo Cals, Prime Minister of the Netherlands in that time. They wanted my father as an minister.

    When they left, I will never forget it, I was an Child, my mother started shouting, over my dead body and I will divorce etc. You understand it, they kept happily married and my father professor.

    Well, Danae Stratou if had been an clever girl, she had done the same like my mother. Because an professor is absolute an Lousy Minister. I assure you, my father would have made the same catastrofe in that time like Yanis did. That is not because he was an bad professor, that is because he is an professor. And don’t tell me about professors, I grew up with famous professors. (Yes, Tolkien).

    Something to notice.

    Like

    • Nice observation on professors as politicians – I have thought the same, because professors generally never have to work in teams. Maybe with their PhD students, but generally they can do what they like, pretty much. Follow their own research, etc.

      That is what I think, what does IGlinavos think, though, who works in academia?

      Here is exactly what Stratou thought, though.

      http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/08/03/the-greek-warrior

      Liked by 1 person

      • mikenetherlands says:

        They live under a glass bell. Their only real friends are other professors. When I was a kid there where only professors on my birthday. Not for me of course.

        If they had implant that plan of off Varoufakis the tanks had been in the streets of Athens. Do you really think the manager of that pharmaceutic firm had accepted that payment? That man had borrowed a Kalashnikov and was on his way to Athens. For sure! Only an professor can think he will accept it. Thank you very much for the money professor Varoufakis. It is exactly what we need for our toilet, because there is an shortage off toilet paper.

        If I would write a book for Xenia Varoufakis the title would be: “How do I survive as an son ore a daughter of an well known professor”. And the first line would be: Stay away from everything what is academic! You can have an very nice life without it, and especially a more quite…

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  5. So he had a plan B after all. Unconventional, but at least a plan. I think taking up Schauble’s offer on a orderly exit probably would have been a better plan for everybody, but OK.

    Now Greece is still at the mercy of a number of Eurozone countries that have to approve on a third bail-out program that (Vanouvakis, is right there) won’t work.

    In the meantime nothing happens, the Greece economy will get further down the drain.

    I understand that Merkel and Tsipras at the end of the day had come to the same conclusion. Grexit was unavoidable. But only because EU president Tusk (who the fuck is he, his country Poland isn’t even part of the Eurozone) didn’t like that, they where ordered to come to a different one.

    One that doesn’t help Greece and doesn’t help the Eurzone.

    .

    Like

  6. @Iglinavos

    I saw your comment in the comments section of the FT as a response to YV’s latest article there, clarifying the Plan B. You should read the statement on YV’s blog from James K. Galbraith about his contact with Costas Lapavitsas. Also, just a more general response, most objective minded people would dispute the contention that a parallel system for payments was an attempt to create a parallel currency to facilitate leaving the Euro.

    Like

  7. LeaNder says:

    I cannot really support the idea that Yanis was quite open to questions or critique on his blog.

    But maybe at the time I entered the scene matters may have changed quite elementarily. ,Meaning at that point in time the control of his image became more important, and thus one relied more on the chorus and simply did censor questions or more critical positions.

    Does anyone know anything about the working group of which Galbraith apparently was a member: A sorry, “secret circle of advisers” to the Greek ministry of finances? If not what then?

    http://tinyurl.com/Galbraith-on-Yanis-blog

    And concerning Randell, at the point I started to look into it, there seem to have been quite a bit of a plan B? Although, yes, even before his interview some of the ideas felt pretty peculiar. At least to the extend I traced them. But something somewhere confirmed me that some of the simplistic questions or basic assumptions of this economical nitwit wheren’t all too misguided after all.

    Here is a glimpse of it:
    http://tinyurl.com/Guardian-gimpses-of-Plan-B

    follow the link to the ECB audio. Now be careful, they obviously release selectively. But so does Varoufakis.

    Like

  8. @Mike

    The pharmaceutical company would have accepted the money. We do not know how the payment system would have worked exactly, but for the time being, the pharmaceutical company (from abroad) would have had Euro in an account in Greece, which would not have been a bank account (as all the banks would be closed – only then would the payment system have been implemented), but an account at the payment system. As far as individuals are concerned, the government could have credited everybody with a tax account with 500 Euro into the payment system to keep going while the banks are closed. It is actually a very good idea, I think.

    Now, as soon as the government opened all the banks again, after restructuring, the money could have been transferred from that payment system account to a once again opened bank accounts (now restructured and solvent) and in due course sent abroad. Subject to capital control rules. The 500 euro credited previously would simply be added to your next tax bill.

    I think the thing to remember, is that that Plan B is still there. Plan B allows you to stay in the Euro, the payment system he proposes is pretty good as anybody who pays taxes has now access to a means of payment and would have been quite good to start something up straight away after the ECB forces bank closures.

    It is quite separate from the Lapavitsas plan of straight Grexit and devaluation.

    And, of course, a parallel currency could be issued, once the payment system has been repaid from proper bank accounts.

    Like

    • mikenetherlands says:

      I doubt that. In fact, the paying is a junkbond from the broken Greek state in fact. I don’t see how the Greek banks can be opened without the ECB. Don’t forget Greece is importing a lot, but the export is low. And the tourism is only 18% of the GNP. They simply would never have the euro’s to pay that payment. It’s junk.

      Like

  9. LeaNder says:

    Sorry, Iannos, I realized I should have followed your link.

    Besides I would love to post my most recent unpublished comments. So people can decide to what extend they should or maybe even had to be censored. Notice, I will not do this ever again. But strictly I could be seriously misguided or only full of myself or any worse matters you prefer.

    My responses where on Yanis’ link to an article about him in a German weekly. Strictly one was about Yanis, “the martyr”, but he choose to link to Yanis the Romanticist, or a look at his book on his daughter Xenia. At least that what it looks like. Not an easy job to do, considering the circumstances.

    Title: Romanticism versus Pragmatist.

    The two comments that were censored, are still in my cache. So you check in what sense they may have been worthy to censor or insulting.

    The first was an answer to this comment to the chorus by a Barry Fay

    Barry Fay on July 25, 2015 at 18:19 said:

    LeaNder
    on July 26, 2015 at 14:26 said:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Are you sure you want the infinitive after Lösung? Is this what Google translate suggested? Anyway an ellipsis does not quite work in this context.

    Lösen and löschen, are not the same. You want “gelöst” here. A problem is solved not extinguished or erased. Besides you cannot use “gelöscht” for the extinction of a people, you can löschen/extinguish fire.

    For the “extinction” of a people see:

    The German equivalent in the title of Raul Hilberg’s magnum opus: The Destruction of the European Jews, would be “die Vernichtung der Europäischen Juden”.

    And this one was a response to this comment:

    Hubert Marcks on July 26, 2015 at 11:19 said

    LeaNder
    on July 26, 2015 at 16:00 said:
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Hubert Marcks, seems we share some interests.

    I did not follow the news either here or anywhere else on matters thoroughly.

    what really got me interested and made me take a closer look at matters, was when an American prof whose contributions to a US blog I follow for a decade by now, suggested
    a) he considers Yanis his friend
    b) he also thinks that Yanis has been viciously slandered and libeled in Europe.

    Can you tell me to narrow in on how Germany, which seems to stick out in Yanis complaints brought about the crisis in Greece, by its surpluses. And how it could be, to use a term from above “,pragmatically” changed? Or the money redirected? Strictly it feels to this economical nitwit, that this “surplus” does only in a rather limited way result in national money via taxes, but concerns private possessions. Should they be privatized so we can do something with them for the better of the European south?

    I have no background in economy, apart from a rather limited glimpse on matters of both economy and law for a specific post-grad degree for people working in the arts. I can assure you that economy and it’s standard equations, including marketing incidentally made me so sick I fled to the legal field in the larger context.

    With the above ideas that Germany always was and always will be what it was between 1933 and 1945 in mind. If its current economical mortal sin is a surplus (more exports then imports), what did it look like before the Nazis? -… or is it a post WWII phenomenon? Could Germany hope that Marshall Plan loans didn’t, or only needed to be repaid with 50% as by all other European states before 1953? And that made all the differenc in how it used it? Mythology?

    What would the balance between the good and the evil look from the late 19 century to today look like? Good=deficit; Bad=surplus. See I come from the humanities and thus distrust slightly a limited evidence base. And yes, I don’t think the evidence base of a field like economics can be deep. Strictly I doubt it is, and relies on a rather limited basis. Is there something like historical economics? Anyway=

    That said, I watched a couple of discussions on the issue over here, in TV contexts I usually avoid. Talkshows. I never really understood the Syriza position. I did understand German Syriza supporters pretty clearly, but they usually had a limited focus, e.g. there should be an option for state bankruptcy.

    Was there ever, to stay on home-ground an attempt, to make this basic position known here or anywhere else. And to what extend did it show awareness of problems elsewhere?

    I don’t have the knowledge base or economical background I guess to understand the “Modest Proposal”, and yes, I wonder a bit why it needed Americans to suggest what would be the best for Europe. Notice, I love the Americans, but I do not necessarily like every single one of them, much less their politics.

    But yes, I can see Yanis is celebrated in the US.

    Again: Why is he not only misunderstood, but also slandered and libeled in Europe?

    Notice the pattern? Welcome only if you join the chorus. No?

    Like

    • LeaNder says:

      Sorry, I have to leave and actually run a clean-up on my laptop:

      “the Romanticist, or a look at his book on his daughter Xenia”

      I meant: A book for his daughter and not on his daughter. There may be more. I simply copied matters before doing the cleanup.

      Like

  10. link posted by eurogate101> http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/08/03/the-greek-warrior

    Thanks, it’s a rather long text but IMHO very worthwhile reading. This narrative of major events from Dec 2014 to Jul 2015 as experienced by V (with various comments by narrator and others) documents quite clearly why his troika tactics were doomed to failure.

    For example, two excerpts hitting the nail on the head:

    excerpt 1> According to a Eurogroup official, V “didn’t seem to understand that the other people in the room were constrained by their national parliaments. They are bound by certain treaties. Those constraints fly in the face of pure economics. The eurozone is complicated, and he had no understanding or sympathy for that.”

    excerpt 2> In the opinion of one troika official, V’s disregard for the granular—like the ease with which he requested other European taxpayers to settle Greece’s account—had an undemocratic air. “One may dismiss this as technocrats looking at numbers,” the official said. “But, if something doesn’t add up and there is a gap, the gap has to be financed by somebody.” He went on, “Adding up is the essence of democracy.”

    I’m writing simply “V” because personality and style don’t matter at all. Anybody else with the same logic would have failed in exactly the same way. In an international context one can’t convincingly speak in the name of (one’s own domestic) democracy while completely ignoring the democratic context and legitimacy of the other partners.

    Anyway I think that V is politically dead by now, also at home. Even though his analyses may be academically right, it didn’t help the country. Surely his outspoken paranoid comments on the alleged intentions of colleagues and his latest revelations (and lies?) around secret Plan B don’t give proof of seriousness and responsibility that might be expected from persons in his former position.

    Insofar I understand, V’s tactics of driving the troika apart have succeeded to some extent, the differences in the positions of EU/EZ, ECB and IMF have been publicly exposed. That makes it even more difficult to find joint financial arrangements for the third assistence programme now being negotiated. And insofar I understand, the temporary ECB rope, in the form of emergency liquidity assistence (ELA), has already been stretched to its very limits, far beyond what the ELA mechanism was intended for. One really can’t blame Draghi and the ECB board.

    There’s no reason to worry about V, he is smart enough to make a living. I’m more concerned about the fate of the people that may have voted for him and his hardline comrades – the small entrepreneur, the hotel receptionist, the olive farmer, the fisherman etc. who depend on a properly functioning financial system.

    PS – Every nation has the sovereign right to choose its currency. The actual choice (rubles, Cuban pesos, neodrachmas, IOUs, TCCs, whatever) doesn’t matter very much, todays “fiat” currency is little more than a virtual unit of “value”, whatever that may mean (the core Marxist idea of value=labour is an interesting insight, but not quite complete in today’s society). The essential thing is the balance of economic goods and services consumed versus economic goods and services produced. And what have we learned about currency: (1) the euro in its present form is fairly robust but could be further strengthened, (2) when adopting the euro, one has to play by the rules, (3) reverting to something else requires a lot of expertise and work, it’s better not to try it in secret.

    Liked by 1 person

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