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What books are you reading?

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It seemed to me he spoke of it derisively.
-Deozaan (July 02, 2017, 04:01 PM)
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He calls it 'pragmatic', and bemoans the ECB's workaround for not being able to do the same.
-tomos (July 02, 2017, 04:10 PM)
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You're right. I didn't understand that word due to his accent. I suppose I may have projected my own opinion of the situation into my interpretation of his meaning.

@tomos: I listened to it all again, wondering whether I had missed something YV (Yanis Varoufakis) said about QE (Quantitative Easing). I think you may be unconsciously doing what @Deozaan says of himself, "I suppose I may have projected my own opinion of the situation into my interpretation of his meaning."
For example, YV's comments about the ECB statutory constraints against QE seemed to be matter-of-fact, objective and non-judgemental and neither in the book nor the video interview does he "bemoan the ECB's workaround for not being able to do the same" as the US QE.
However, if you want him to be perceived as speaking as a proponent of QE, then so be it.
Voilà! He's a proponent of QE!   

It's kind of immaterial anyway, as the subject of the interview and this thread is/was his book, why he wrote it and the story it tells - the revelations and drama of what unfolded behind the scenes and behind closed doors, in exhausting 10-hour long deliberately un-minuted meetings, etc.
From what he writes/says, it seems clear that it was neither an open nor democratic process (in his view) - and that seems to have been a key factor. If the EU had been a democracy, then the Greek bailout débâcle wouldn't (probably couldn't) have gone the way it did, though in retrospect YV says he made two mistakes that could have been crucial contributors to allowing the bureaucrats to have their way and the resultant damage to be done to the Greek economy. He apparently deliberately wrote the book as an alarm/warning to other Western economies, as to what was inherently wrong/irrational in the case of the Greek bailout, and that it could happen again, elsewhere.

In the book, YV doesn't seem to necessarily approve or disapproves of anything, really, and that is reflected in his comments in the video interview. He is a rational economist who is at pains to show what happened, and why, and how it was a tragedy of bureaucratic irrationality (not "political"), where the apparently powerful people making the decisions were powerless - impotently caught up in the constraints of a stupid mess of traps of their own creation and unable to step out of those constraints. He does not point the finger at anyone/anything or any religio-political ideology as being the "bad" guy/thing. He speaks as a detached but not disinterested observer, and considers that everybody was simply trying to do their utmost best to arrive at a resolution to bailout Greece, within the constraints they found themselves in.

@03:30min. YV refers to the 2008 US QE as being "very pragmatic", and then underscores the ECB's inability to use QE (which it is prudently prohibited from doing, by statute) - so, by implication, they would have had to use the funding means that they did have at their disposal. That would (presumably) have been OK and do-able/feasible, had not the EU ministers apparently previously hamstrung themselves by prior bureaucratic commitments having little to do with the situation of the Greek economy per se, but which Greece was going to have to accept and pay for, against the Greek government's wishes.

@10:25min. YV refers to a feasible plan - how he "...started putting together a plan for how to deter the bank closures [and by implication the unnecessarily harsh/punitive economic effects of that on the citizens] and how to force the troika to accept the basics that were necessary for Greece's [economic] recovery.". He then goes on to say that the IMF at first privately agreed with his plan and later publicly campaigned for the implementation of a plan that was identical "...precisely to the last decimal point". (He said he gains no satisfaction from having been thus vindicated.)

What eventuated, however, was the implementation of the troika's economically illogical, unworkable and harsh "plan" that could not be substantiated or maintained in perpetuity, and they all knew that was so.

There is a priceless and amusing bit near the start of the interview, just after YV has mentioned the astonishingly arrogant and undemocratic attitude of the EU bureaucrats, who consider themselves to be the "adults in the room" (quoting Christine Lagarde and used as the title for the book), which "...reflects the contempt that the establishment has for the people..." - the mass of voters being children, "...who supposedly are the source of all legitimacy in a properly-functioning democracy." (Redolent of similar statements by one of the recent US presidential candidates, so it's apparently not just an EU thing but is indeed a reflection of elitist self-perception and contempt, as YV seems to view it.):


* Interviewer: So, Sweden has enjoined the Euro - we had a referendum in 2003...
* YV (interjecting): Thankfully for Sweden.
* Interviewer: ...did we have a lucky escape?
* YV: Absolutely!    ;D    :D    :P    ;)   
That's one of the things I lurve about the collapsing of the value-chain on the Internet. We don't need (don't want) to have to read or watch pre-digested and expurgated news releases or interviews, excreted like t#rds for our consumption, by the MSA intermediaries who used to have an oligopoly controlling what news we were allowed to know about and digest.
If that had been a BBC interview rather than what it was (an interview for Swedish TV), it would have probably been seriously edited and that little discussion gem would almost certainly have ended up on the cutting-room floor. We mustn't say/hear thaaat sort of thing! Oh, the horror! Why, the children might overhear and misconstrue its meaning!

The interview is definitely consistent with what he says in the book, and vice versa. For anyone who is interested in applied economics (rather than just theoretical economics) I would suggest that this book is pretty compelling and thought-provoking reading, and it is a true, current and objective case study, with potential and serious relevance to all modern western economies. A great learning opportunity.

@tomos: I listened to it all again, wondering whether I had missed something YV (Yanis Varoufakis) said about QE (Quantitative Easing). I think you are probably correct where you say "I suppose I may have projected my own opinion of the situation into my interpretation of his meaning."
-IainB (July 02, 2017, 09:34 PM)
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I said that. :Thmbsup:

@Deozaan: Many thanks for pointing that out. I've corrected it now. Apologies. I actually had it all correct but then my browser crashed whilst I was writing the comment, and in the recovery I saw that I had lost some of the several changes that I had made, and I hastily tried to redo them completely from memory. In my annoyed haste, I didn't notice that the first part of the comment was also still incomplete and would not make sense as posted.    :-[

@IainB -- we are largely in agreement,
you appear to have misunderstood my point though - I do not "want him to be perceived as speaking as a proponent of QE". FWIW I have no vested interests in seeing him in any particular way -- I have no reason to project here.

I was simply pointing out his seeing it as pragmatic when things get that bad. That was it.


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