Adults in the Room: My Battle with Europe's Deep Establishment

Yanis Varoufakis

2017


An emotionally charged but very readable personal account of the third stage of the Greek financial crisis, as told by one of the protagonists.

It's important to bear in mind that this is autobiography, not history, and as such can be excused for being polemical in Varoufakis' defence. It's detailed and complex in its political overtones, but the core argument is very simple: the Greek financial crisis long ago ceased to be about economics and became a morality play in which the Greek state is forced to accept increasingly steep remedies that aren't in any way intended to bring about a recovery, or even to recover monies already loaned.

One can't treat the account as history, since so many of the exchanges are uncorroborated. Moreover, Varoufakis reduces his entire account of the run-up to very small sections – almost single sentences – where he admits that the Greek state had massively mismanaged its own economy. It's acceptable for him to do so, both because he's telling the story of his own involvement in events and because, quite frankly, the details are irrelevant to him as an economist. He sees a state that's incapable of repaying its loans and expects capitalism to work as it should – by imposing the losses on those foolish enough to make the loans. When the opposite happens, and the lenders (European banks) are bailed-out at the expense of the Greek citizenry and European taxpayer, he's almost at a loss to deal with the fact that the economics have become an irrelevance.

His account is eerily consistent with those dealing with the Irish "bailout" (which was, similarly, no such thing – not of the state receiving it, anyway). It will remain for future historians to weigh the different accounts in the balance, and this book will be one of their main sources.

Finished on Thu, 24 Aug 2017 10:21:00 -0700.   Rating 4/5.