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And the Weak Suffer What They Must?:…

And the Weak Suffer What They Must?: Europe's Crisis and… (2016)

by Yanis Varoufakis

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Been a hard read, this one, but taught me a lot. Lots I don't understand but I shall read more and hopefully understand more. So angry...... ( )
  Ma_Washigeri | May 27, 2018 |
A trenchant critique of the forces that led to the creation of the European Union, the debacle of the Euro and the impact of the resulting economic crisis on Greece and other unfortunate recipients of the German Bank's largesse. ( )
  georgee53 | May 16, 2018 |
Varoufakis was Greek's finance minister during the hight of their recent crisis in 2015. He is also a left-leaning (a self-identified "erratic Marxist"). This book was published in 2016.

The book is about the history of the Euro, from the Bretton Woods agreement, up until today. Although Greece and Europe are the center of the story, the United States plays a very strong supporting role.

Back in the ‘40s, with a shift away from the gold standard, Keynes, a Brit, came to Bretton Woods to propose his elegant “bancor” protocol as an international reserve currency. The United States didn’t like this idea, even though it was superior to their own proposal: having the dollar serve in this capacity.

This was just fine when we were a surplus nation, but as that ceased to be the case, how could we continue to stay the international reserve currency? International economic relations are simplest when trade is balanced. This is because imbalances leave wealth in the hands of countries that don’t need it. If they loan this money out with interest to poor countries (the best “investment” opportunity), as the intelligence of economics would have one do, that just exacerbates the imbalance, until, eventually, the weak economy collapses at the expense of the strong.

The alternative to this is to have an surplus rebalancing mechanism that essentially gifts funds to the weakest aspects of a union (such as in the United States). The Euro failed to do this.

Going back again, 70% of Germany’s WWII debt forgiven, and the US decided to prioritize investment there for the development of their manufacturing economy. There is some irony in this, as they were the biggest losers of WWII. Regardless of the merits of this path (which was a much better route than the one taken post WWI), this meant that Germany became the strongest economy in Europe, seconded by France.

In the ‘60s, France and Germany started exploring the possibility of a joint currency. These conversations would extend intermittently for decades before the Euro was actually created during the fall of the Berlin Wall. By this point, the eurozone grew to encompass many more countries than France and Germany, although they were at the heart.

One big topic topic of exploration in the book is about democracy, or lack thereof in the Eurozone. Just as many have been criticizing blockchain projects like BitCoin and Ethereum for lacking an adequate representative governance mechanism, the Euro is in the same position, and that’s one of the reasons for its failure.

Another big topic is that of debt forgiveness. Varoufakis reminds us that capitalism is solely possible due to limited liability and bankruptcy.

The dynamics explored in this text accurately predicted both Brexit and the rise of Trump. Nazi nationalism is the most likely outcome of a failure to create adequate equality and democracy. ( )
  willszal | Dec 15, 2017 |
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""The strong do as they can and the weak suffer what they must." --Thucydides The fate of the global economy hangs in the balance, and Europe is doing its utmost to undermine it, to destabilize America, and to spawn new forms of authoritarianism. Europe has dragged the world into hideous morasses twice in the last one hundred years... it can do it again. Yanis Varoufakis, the former Finance Minister of Greece, shows here that the Eurozone is a house of cards destined to fall without a radical change in direction. And, if the European Union falls apart, he argues, the global economy will not be far behind. Once America abandoned Europe in 1971 from the dollar zone, Europe's leaders decided to create a monetary union of 18 nations without control of their own money, without democratic accountability, and without a government to support the Central Bank. This bizarre economic super-power was equipped with none of the shock absorbers necessary to contain a financial crisis, while its design ensured that, when it came, the crisis would be massive. When disaster hit in 2009, Varoufakis argues that Europe turned against itself, humiliating millions of innocent citizens, driving populations to despair, and buttressing a form of bigotry unseen since the Second World War. Here, Varoufakis offers concrete policies that the rest of the world can take part in to intervene and help save Europe from impending catastrophe, and presents the ultimate case against austerity. With passionate, informative, and at times humorous prose, he warns that the implosion of an admittedly crisis-ridden and deeply irrational European capitalism should be avoided at all cost"--… (more)

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