Saturday, July 4, 2015

Paul Mason's Remarkable Interview With FinMin Varoufakis

This is a most remarkable 15-minute interview. FinMin Varoufakis is at his best: supreme self-confidence; brilliant rhetoric; and seemingly believing every word he said. And there were some remarkable words! Here are some excerpts:

The IMF and Europe apparently don't quite agree, to which Varoufakis replied: "What are we trying to do? We are trying to be the sensible people between the IMF and Europe."

But shouldn't you just tell your voters that your plan is a fantasy? "It isn't a fantasy. Let me tell you something which is probably unknown. Ever since we declared the referendum, we had the most interesting proposals coming from Brussels. Perhaps the referendum and the impasse it represents concentrated some minds in Brussels and they had some really good proposals; proposals that we would sign on the dotted line for."

You have a proposal that you would sign on the dotted line for? "Yes, we do." Where is it? "I am not going to tell you. It is somewhere in this building. But before we can sign off on the document on Monday, the Greek people have to empower us to do so."

"We are between a rock and a hard place. This is what happens when you have a broken down economy. Did we cause this crisis? No! The Troika did!"

"If we get the 'no', we have bargaining power to negotiate a much better deal than the one which was offered on June 25."

You can assure the people right now that, for Monday, there is a resolution? "Yes, there will be a resolution. One way or the other."

If the experiment with left-wing government in Greece ends on Sunday night, was it worth it? "Of course it was worth it! We have lit a beacon on a hill. We have made hope return back to Europe. We have re-introduced the concept of democracy which was actually quite forgotten within the Eurogroup. We have lit this fuse of hope and democratic principle and - we are not going to go away. Even if the 'yes' vote means that there is going to be an election very soon, I can assure you that the only party in Greece that is credible and which has legitimacy with the Greek people is SYRIZA!"


  1. I was not impressed at all with this interview. I think Yanis is an excellent analyst of the eurozone crisis; makes a first rate technical advisor; and is a genuine advocate of the policies put forward. However, I have never been convinced of his readings of the political situation, and I think this is now very clear. The political scene in Europe is a catastrophe, and Greece is the victim of it. My only hope is that Tsipras will be able to salvage something from this mess -- but I am beginning to doubt it, since the odds are against him.

    1. Hi Xenos,

      The odds are very against him. His counter parts are excellent negotiators/professional politicians who know that however the greeks present their situation they are in the lower side of the negotiating table.

      Tsipras was seriously out dueled by all. An when he snapped they foreign and local players took advantage and pounced. Varoufakis was always sidelined. He can do nothing. They have played our government so well, we are now in the same or worse position than before. Plead for mercy.

      The irony of this whole situation is that a deal if made will be so severe that it will be like the ZDF satirical program the other day. We are the patient on the surgeon table and we will be killed.

      It is that simple. I am curious of what measures will be enforced on us.

      Being in the village now, there is a quiet calm. People see thing very different than the city. They see that there is simple no difference in the no and yes vote. That it means nothing now. Considering we are without banks no/yes means nothing.

      A mayor said today that we all know we should vote no unanimously. When we think with our brain we should vote yes. He said he will be in dis trout when he has to vote yes.

      Whatever the result is, is what is to become of us. How severe will the punishment be on a people who on the most part have suffered dearly. Another friend told me today it makes no difference the no/yes. They (troika) will get what they want. All labor laws crushed (born as Americans with no labor law protection) and 300 euro pensions. And for voting for Syriza, we will not recapitalize your banks but you will. Bail in. They are saying accts above 8,000 but i expect all. Plus all the other measures. A haircut will come, but it will do nothing to negate the new loan we will need which will be around 50 bil euro. A 2-3 year life line. Troika wants a yes vote because they simple do not want to see Tsipras face again.

      I will go for a nice walk in the morning before i go vote.

      See You all tomorrow.


    2. I he would had been more decent with his words and promises, he could have achieved a lot for Greece. His analyses of the past are sharp and interesting and may have worked as good Greek basis to reinterprete the european situation in a counterposition to that of Merkel, Schäuble et al.
      But his proposals what Greece can do better by its own to grow economically are still nonexistent, big flaw (he only tells what EU could do better). His reading of the political situation in Europe proved to be simply wrong and his sharp and violating rhetorics were quite counterproductive.
      To call people "terrorists" in the public, that you need to negotiate and that you wish to offer you money, is doubtless entertaining, but its a kind of suicide for your negotiating position.

      He could have been a very good adviser and PR-guy for a Syriza finance minister, and as adviser his loose mouth would have been tolerable, but as finance minister he was and is a good and charismatic entertainer, but also a clown and hence a huge political burden.

      I must admit I was quite impressed by the interview. His "Pippi Longstocking"-attitude is not often shown that obviously.
      "2 x 3 macht 4 - widdewiddewitt und 3 macht 9e!
      Ich mach' mir die Welt - widdewidde wie sie mir gefällt"
      aka "2 multiplied 3 is 4, and plus 3 is 9,
      I make the world just as I like it most"

    3. When Klaus wrote that Tsipras lost his cool, you disagreed with his take and thought that he had outmaneuvered the creditors. Based on this comment, it seems that you changed your mind - if indeed this is the case, what triggered it?

    4. @V: I wish you (and Greece) all the best. This is a terrible period, and we all have to get through it, somehow intact.
      @Anonymous: When Tsipras called the referendum, it staved off the process of signing a deal that was worse than under previous governments (simply because it continued the same level of austerity when the economy was in much worse condition). It also avoided a potential collapse of the government, since the left of Syriza would not accept to support such a bad deal in the parliament vote. The fact was then, and remains, that Europe will be very badly damaged -- probably irreparably -- both politically and economically by Greece either falling apart or leaving the eurozone, let alone the EU.

      However, since that time I have understood that Germany and the IMF (political wing, not the economists) has no interest in repairing the Greek economy. Indeed, their interest is the wide political control of the eurozone and the protection of the banking system. They are prepared to destroy Greece, and potentially leave the country in a humanitarian crisis, in order to impose austerity economics across the Continent.

      This piece of information is crucial. It means that the structural imperatives of reaching a reasonable and fair agreement with Greece are considered not to be imperatives by the Troika. For them, their crude political analysis (control of the peripheral countries) with the purpose of carrying out their crude monetary objetctive (protecting banks) trumps everything else. I think that Varoufakis makes the error of focusing on economic issues, and trivialising the role of sentiment and ideological obsession.

      If the eurozone were to be rational, Greece would not now be in this situation. What has been done since 2009 is absolutely amateurish and incompetent for economic management, and effective from the point of rescuing private sector banks. This asymmetry continues, and is done without the electorates of northern Europe grasping the issues. It therefore amounts to fraud and non-democratic decision-making by Germany and others.

      A small weak and highly indebted country like Greece cannot outmanouevre this sort of crookery. It is, in fact, faced with the choice of "do as you are told, and live in poverty" or leaving the EU.

  2. Four brilliant articles about the present situation from an educated insider in Greece - Michael Nevradakis.
    My impression is that he is left leaning - possibly radical - but seems honest and very informed - dealing with facts and reason.
    I suspect he comes more from a anti-elit-globalist perspective than anything else - which I am fully onboard with.
    Point of view and perspective can be different - but there is a common ground when facts and reason is at hand -
    and a common, optimal solution as crafted - in the blending of ideas.
    This is the united forces that hopefully will prevail after Syrizas fall - and divide and conquer.

    Naturally I don´t agree on all details - and would propose somewhat other varieties of reforms - but brilliant articles to read and very informative.
    Great info - especially The Truth About Greece - learned a lot!;)

    The Truth About Greece: Syriza’s Creatively Ambiguous Referendum
    It was just four months ago, though it already seems like a lifetime away, when Greece’s celebrity finance minister Yanis Varoufakis publicly stated that “creative ambiguity” won the country a “loan lifeline” from the institutions formerly known as the troika: the European Central Bank, the European Commission, and the International Monetary Fund. Despite the never-ending soap opera that is Greek crisis politics though, few would have imagined that the SYRIZA-led coalition government would succeed in outdoing itself in terms of its “creative ambiguity,” by calling a referendum which, just days before the polls open, remains remarkably unclear as to its actual meaning and potential consequences.

    Commentary of the Week: June 11-17, 2015
    If one were to believe the media and the pro-SYRIZA sycophants which seem to be everywhere nowadays, then they would be under the impression that Greece finally has a government which is standing up for the country and its people, which is saying no to austerity and to the demands of the troika, and which is radically changing politics, society, and the economy in Greece.

    Commentary of the Week: May 14-20, 2015
    (Michael Nevradakis proposals)
    These include exiting the Eurozone and leaving the European Union, re-establishing a national domestic currency, declaring an immediate stoppage of payments and writing off much of the public debt, performing a true audit of Greece’s national debt as well as of all the contracts and expenditures of all Greek governments of the past several decades, a total stripping away of parliamentary immunity, a full constitutional revision with the participation of Greek citizens, the nationalization of Greece’s banks and the central bank of Greece, a return to a simple proportional electoral system and the abolition of the 50-seat bonus afforded to the winner of an election, a total reform of Greece’s corrupt and backlogged justice system, the establishment of a constitutional court, criminal investigations and charges against Greek politicians and oligarchs, measures to assist small businesses, farmers, and whatever little is left of Greece’s industry and measures to help them rebuild, a total revamp of Greece’s education system and an end to the system of rote learning, lowering taxes sharply for the lower and middle classes and the lowering or elimination of taxes for domestically-produced goods, a new emphasis on social services and health care, return of the minimum wage to a living wage and pegging it to the inflation rate, incentives for the return of young Greeks who have migrated abroad, and the full cancellation of all austerity measures and laws passed as a result of the memorandum agreements of the past six years.

    Commentary of the Week: April 30-May 6, 2015
    The government of “hope” and of the “radical left” has struck again! This time with an executive decree which forces all state bodies,
    ranging from local governments and pension funds to universities, to transfer their cash reserves to the Bank of Greece

  3. This is well worth reading. She seems to have good contacts within Syriza.

  4. Varoufakis is a good boy!!
    Painful to see... he´s losing it completely in this interview.
    Funny that a guy like Paul Mason - which often write very left-leaning pro Syriza articles - should be the one that crushes V to nothing here.
    As they say, Give them rope and they hang themselves.
    Mason will possibly levitate to a Greek legend now as he push the almost last nail in the coffin in this destiny-drama that will run to the bitter end.

    Mason is arguably a good journalist too - he follow his instincts and wont let go and basically ask: You really now what you´re doing...?
    The only conclusion Mason must have got and the viewer too of this interview is that the finance minister lost touch with reality and that goes for Tsipras too.
    He is obviously believing that he will sign a deal on Monday, Syriza is the only credible show in town - and then - business as usual.

  5. Pretending that somewhere in the building there must be "a proposal that you would sign on the dotted line for" imho can consist of either:

    - A non official something some not competent politician had sen - in this case the FM does only tell half of truth

    - Pure wishful thinking.

    Maybe future will explain, otherwise it will be a soon forgotten detail...


  6. Slightly off-topic, I recommend this:

    It is more or less my view, too.

    1. Zerohedge supports the American agenda and imho has same credibility as Xenos and Syriza...


  7. I have come to believe that not only FinMin Baroufakis (the latest incarnation of his name, meaning the one that speaks nonsense) has lost contact with reality, but the whole of the cabinet. This is the result of the Greek belief that no practical/technical/mathematical/logical limits exist to political power/will -ie the state is a God like entity and planning/preparing/analyzing/data collecting are simply political ploys. This is not a SYRIZA only phenomenon. My father, a very senior judge, and my in laws (my father in law was a retired General) believe the same thing. This goes for younger generations too. All my career was spend trying to disabuse upper management of such notions, especially during my stint at Piraeus bank. The apogee of these efforts were at National bank of Greece. I was working at ALTEC at the time and I was installing a sophisticated piece of software in the front end of the bank's main system. I was working with one of the most gifted programmers I have ever met. The guy had written the National bank of Greece front end single handed ! During a testing session I asked to see a part of the code. To my horror I realized that there were no code printouts, no documentation and no current version backup!!!Everything was in George's (the programmer) brain. George was smoking like a chimney 3-4 cigaret packets a day, was obese and was doing underwater spear fishing!! I informed my upper managers, explaining that if something went wrong we will never be able to prove that our software worked properly and I also, informally, alerted the EDP assistant general manager. Both answered with the Greek equivalent of Insallah 'Εχει ο Θεός¨-God is taking care of us!!!
    Greek leftists suffer from a particularly virulent strain of this delusion, because, additionally, they think they possess the absolute truth: marxism. What I think is happening now is that the government cannot really process mentally the fact that their political instructions fail miserably and, as accepting reality means accepting a very deep psychological defeat, they resort to magical thinking. As my wife said they believe they run a student convention in a Greek University.
    My guess- expect days like the early summer of 1974, when the Colonels' PM Andritsopoulos was found hiding in a closet.

  8. Congratulation to Greece for the probably clear result. It may help not to split Greece too much, help to not continue a cultural version of civil war.

    Greece decided democratically that they want an independent new currency. So let it happen.
    National unity can easen the quite hard, but nessecary way to reboot and rebuild the country.

    I wish Greece the best, to blossom soon.
    And I would be glad if Greece only leaves EuroGroup, but not also EU.