Talking to my daughter, a brief history of capitalism by Yanis Varoufakis (Vintage)


“All babies are born naked, but soon some are dressed in expensive clothes bought at the best boutiques while the majority wear rags”

THE very best way to write a book is to sit down on an idyllic Greek island and knock it off in nine days, like this one. In context you can place this on the bookshelf beside the bestselling  Yoav Noah Harrari trilogy. Here the subject is economics, markets and money.

Varoufakis was of course the finance minister in the Greek bailout from Europe which gives him an interesting perspective, and as he says maybe not all economists will agree. But like Harrari he credits an important dimension in banking to the imagination, the ability to imagine money, the parallel universe where money manifests itself on a ledger and is never expected to become coins or notes or even, so old fashioned, gold. At times he is even suggesting that maybe all that wealth is an illusion, which it certainly is to most of us. And maybe all those economic budgetary forecasts which we are all warned about, well maybe it is the same as going down the horse track. Markets are not predictable. Oh, dear.

“Fellow economists, as you can imagine, get very cross with me when I tell them we face a choice: we can keep pretending we are scientists, like astrologers do, or admit we are more like philosphers, who will never know the meaning of life for sure, no matter how wisely and rationally they argue”.

He warns sternly that in the future that money will become more not less political, that the moneyed class have developed their own shorthand which can only ascribe a monetary value to something. That in turn puts everything else at risk.

Do not entrust such people – governments, banks, corporates, their asociates –  with such powers because they are impotent in, for one example, that other eco debate ecology. Or climate change. Capitalism has run amok, or if it has not already done so will do sometime pretty soon. It is a train with no brakes.

One solution he suggests that might help is to create administrative decomcracies for things we value, like say rainforests that do not have an obvious monetary value but on which we all depend and we can vote on protecting them. Ummm.

The whole financial edifice is a fraud albeit one that exists because of our own faith and trust. The business of making money has moved on to a level where it has become self fullfilling and is increasingly disconnected from…well from all of us who are not a part of the banking machine. As Greece suffers…


About drewsmith28

Words, words, words...
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