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This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading.

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2

[...] Beneath the specific events that I experienced, I recognised a universal story – the story of what happens when human beings find themselves at the mercy of cruel circumstances that have been generated by an inhuman, mostly unseen network of power relations. This is why there are no ‘goodies’ or ‘baddies’ in this book. Instead, it is populated by people doing their best, as they understand it, under conditions not of their choosing. Each of the persons I encountered and write about in these pages believed they were acting appropriately, but, taken together, their acts produced misfortune on a continental scale. Is this not the stuff of authentic tragedy? Is this not what makes the tragedies of Sophocles and Shakespeare resonate with us today, hundreds of years after the events they relate became old news?

—p.2 Preface (1) by Yanis Varoufakis 1 year, 1 month ago

[...] Beneath the specific events that I experienced, I recognised a universal story – the story of what happens when human beings find themselves at the mercy of cruel circumstances that have been generated by an inhuman, mostly unseen network of power relations. This is why there are no ‘goodies’ or ‘baddies’ in this book. Instead, it is populated by people doing their best, as they understand it, under conditions not of their choosing. Each of the persons I encountered and write about in these pages believed they were acting appropriately, but, taken together, their acts produced misfortune on a continental scale. Is this not the stuff of authentic tragedy? Is this not what makes the tragedies of Sophocles and Shakespeare resonate with us today, hundreds of years after the events they relate became old news?

—p.2 Preface (1) by Yanis Varoufakis 1 year, 1 month ago
9

Yiorgos Chatzis went missing on 29 August 2012. He was last sighted at the social security office in the small northern Greek town of Siatista, where he was told that his monthly disability allowance of €280 had been suspended. Eyewitnesses reported that he did not utter a word of complaint. ‘He seemed stunned and remained speechless,’ a newspaper said. Soon after, he used his mobile phone for the last time to call his wife. No one was at home, so he left a message: ‘I feel useless. I have nothing to offer you any more. Look after the children.’ A few days later his body was found in a remote wooded area, suspended by the neck over a cliff, his mobile phone lying on the ground nearby.

aaaahh

—p.9 Winters of our discontent (6) by Yanis Varoufakis 1 year, 1 month ago

Yiorgos Chatzis went missing on 29 August 2012. He was last sighted at the social security office in the small northern Greek town of Siatista, where he was told that his monthly disability allowance of €280 had been suspended. Eyewitnesses reported that he did not utter a word of complaint. ‘He seemed stunned and remained speechless,’ a newspaper said. Soon after, he used his mobile phone for the last time to call his wife. No one was at home, so he left a message: ‘I feel useless. I have nothing to offer you any more. Look after the children.’ A few days later his body was found in a remote wooded area, suspended by the neck over a cliff, his mobile phone lying on the ground nearby.

aaaahh

—p.9 Winters of our discontent (6) by Yanis Varoufakis 1 year, 1 month ago
11

When a large-scale crisis hits, it is tempting to attribute it to a conspiracy between the powerful. Images spring to mind of smoke-filled rooms with cunning men (and the occasional woman) plotting how to profit at the expense of the common good and the weak. These images are, however, delusions. If our sharply diminished circumstances can be blamed on a conspiracy, then it is one whose members do not even know that they are part of it. That which feels to many like a conspiracy of the powerful is simply the emergent property of any network of super black boxes.

not the most elegant wording but an important point

—p.11 Winters of our discontent (6) by Yanis Varoufakis 1 year, 1 month ago

When a large-scale crisis hits, it is tempting to attribute it to a conspiracy between the powerful. Images spring to mind of smoke-filled rooms with cunning men (and the occasional woman) plotting how to profit at the expense of the common good and the weak. These images are, however, delusions. If our sharply diminished circumstances can be blamed on a conspiracy, then it is one whose members do not even know that they are part of it. That which feels to many like a conspiracy of the powerful is simply the emergent property of any network of super black boxes.

not the most elegant wording but an important point

—p.11 Winters of our discontent (6) by Yanis Varoufakis 1 year, 1 month ago
23

Friends and journalists often ask me to describe the worst aspect of my negotiations with Greece’s creditors. Not being able to shout from the rooftops what the high and mighty were telling me in private was certainly frustrating, but worse was dealing with creditors who did not really want their money back. Negotiating with them, trying to reason with them, was like negotiating a peace treaty with generals hell-bent on continuing a war safe in the knowledge that they, their sons and their daughters are out of harm’s way.

What was the nature of that war? Why did Greece’s creditors behave as if they did not want their money back? What led them to devise the trap in which they now found themselves? The riddle can be answered in seconds if one takes a look at the state of France’s and Germany’s banks after 2008.

[...] Overnight, France’s main banks would be facing a loss of 19 per cent of their ‘assets’ when a mere 3 per cent loss would make them insolvent.

To plug that gap the French government would need a cool €562 billion overnight. But unlike the United States federal government, which can shift such losses to its central bank (the Fed), France had dismantled its central bank in 2000 when it joined the common currency and had to rely instead on the kindness of Europe’s shared central bank, the European Central Bank. Alas, the ECB was created with an express prohibition: no shifting of Graeco-Latin bad debts, private or public, onto the ECB’s books. Full stop. That had been Germany’s condition for sharing its cherished Deutschmark with Europe’s riff-raff, renaming it the euro.

[...] France’s top officials knew that Greece’s bankruptcy would force the French state to borrow six times its total annual tax revenues just to hand it over to three idiotic banks.

It was simply impossible. Had the markets caught a whiff that this was on the cards, interest rates on France’s own public debt would have been propelled into the stratosphere, and in seconds €1.29 trillion of French government debt would have gone bad. In a country which had given up its capacity to print banknotes – the only remaining means of generating money from nothing – that would mean destitution, which in turn would bring down the whole of the European Union, its common currency, everything.

the rest of the explanation has to do with the eurozone, greece's deficits suddenly becoming more visible and fatal after the credit crunch of 2008, etc

—p.23 Winters of our discontent (6) by Yanis Varoufakis 1 year, 1 month ago

Friends and journalists often ask me to describe the worst aspect of my negotiations with Greece’s creditors. Not being able to shout from the rooftops what the high and mighty were telling me in private was certainly frustrating, but worse was dealing with creditors who did not really want their money back. Negotiating with them, trying to reason with them, was like negotiating a peace treaty with generals hell-bent on continuing a war safe in the knowledge that they, their sons and their daughters are out of harm’s way.

What was the nature of that war? Why did Greece’s creditors behave as if they did not want their money back? What led them to devise the trap in which they now found themselves? The riddle can be answered in seconds if one takes a look at the state of France’s and Germany’s banks after 2008.

[...] Overnight, France’s main banks would be facing a loss of 19 per cent of their ‘assets’ when a mere 3 per cent loss would make them insolvent.

To plug that gap the French government would need a cool €562 billion overnight. But unlike the United States federal government, which can shift such losses to its central bank (the Fed), France had dismantled its central bank in 2000 when it joined the common currency and had to rely instead on the kindness of Europe’s shared central bank, the European Central Bank. Alas, the ECB was created with an express prohibition: no shifting of Graeco-Latin bad debts, private or public, onto the ECB’s books. Full stop. That had been Germany’s condition for sharing its cherished Deutschmark with Europe’s riff-raff, renaming it the euro.

[...] France’s top officials knew that Greece’s bankruptcy would force the French state to borrow six times its total annual tax revenues just to hand it over to three idiotic banks.

It was simply impossible. Had the markets caught a whiff that this was on the cards, interest rates on France’s own public debt would have been propelled into the stratosphere, and in seconds €1.29 trillion of French government debt would have gone bad. In a country which had given up its capacity to print banknotes – the only remaining means of generating money from nothing – that would mean destitution, which in turn would bring down the whole of the European Union, its common currency, everything.

the rest of the explanation has to do with the eurozone, greece's deficits suddenly becoming more visible and fatal after the credit crunch of 2008, etc

—p.23 Winters of our discontent (6) by Yanis Varoufakis 1 year, 1 month ago
127

There are 10 million Greeks living in Greece (falling fast due to emigration), organized in around 2.8 million households with a ‘relationship’ with the tax authorities.

Of those 2.8 million households, 2.3 million (and 3.5 million tax file numbers) have a debt to the tax authorities that they cannot service.

One million households cannot pay their electricity bill in full, forcing the electricity company to ‘extend and pretend’, thus ensuring that a million homes live in fear of darkness at night and the electricity company is insolvent. Indeed, the Public Power Corporation is disconnecting around 30,000 homes and businesses a month due to unpaid bills.

For 48.6 per cent of families, pensions are the main source of income. Meanwhile the troika demands that pensions be cut even further. What was the €700 old age pension has been reduced by about 25 per cent since 2010 and is due to be halved over the next few years.

The minimum wage has shrunk (on the troika’s orders) by 40 per cent. Other benefits have been cut by more than 18 per cent.

Some 40 per cent of the population say they will not be able to meet their financial commitments this year.

Unemployment has risen 160 per cent so that 3.5 million employed people now support 4.7 million unemployed or inactive Greeks.

Of the 3 million people constituting Greece’s labour force, 1.4 million are jobless.

Of the 1.4 million jobless only 10 per cent receive unemployment benefit and only 15 per cent any benefits at all. The rest must fend for themselves.

Of those employed in the private sector 500,000 have not been paid for more than three months.

Contractors who work for the public sector are paid up to 24 months after they provide the service and pre-pay the sales tax to the tax office. Between 2008 and 2014 small and medium-sized companies reduced their workforce by 29.3 per cent and their output (in value added terms) by 40.2 per cent.

Half the businesses still in operation throughout the country are seriously in arrears with their compulsory contributions to their employees’ pension and social security funds.

In 2013 36 per cent of the population officially lived at risk of poverty or social exclusion. That percentage is on the rise.

Household disposable income has contracted 30 per cent since 2010.

Healthcare expenditure was cut by 11.1 per cent between 2009 and 2011 alone, with significant rises in HIV infections, tuberculosis and stillbirths.

damn. a speech he gives in parliament in jan 2015

—p.127 Winters of our discontent (6) by Yanis Varoufakis 1 year, 1 month ago

There are 10 million Greeks living in Greece (falling fast due to emigration), organized in around 2.8 million households with a ‘relationship’ with the tax authorities.

Of those 2.8 million households, 2.3 million (and 3.5 million tax file numbers) have a debt to the tax authorities that they cannot service.

One million households cannot pay their electricity bill in full, forcing the electricity company to ‘extend and pretend’, thus ensuring that a million homes live in fear of darkness at night and the electricity company is insolvent. Indeed, the Public Power Corporation is disconnecting around 30,000 homes and businesses a month due to unpaid bills.

For 48.6 per cent of families, pensions are the main source of income. Meanwhile the troika demands that pensions be cut even further. What was the €700 old age pension has been reduced by about 25 per cent since 2010 and is due to be halved over the next few years.

The minimum wage has shrunk (on the troika’s orders) by 40 per cent. Other benefits have been cut by more than 18 per cent.

Some 40 per cent of the population say they will not be able to meet their financial commitments this year.

Unemployment has risen 160 per cent so that 3.5 million employed people now support 4.7 million unemployed or inactive Greeks.

Of the 3 million people constituting Greece’s labour force, 1.4 million are jobless.

Of the 1.4 million jobless only 10 per cent receive unemployment benefit and only 15 per cent any benefits at all. The rest must fend for themselves.

Of those employed in the private sector 500,000 have not been paid for more than three months.

Contractors who work for the public sector are paid up to 24 months after they provide the service and pre-pay the sales tax to the tax office. Between 2008 and 2014 small and medium-sized companies reduced their workforce by 29.3 per cent and their output (in value added terms) by 40.2 per cent.

Half the businesses still in operation throughout the country are seriously in arrears with their compulsory contributions to their employees’ pension and social security funds.

In 2013 36 per cent of the population officially lived at risk of poverty or social exclusion. That percentage is on the rise.

Household disposable income has contracted 30 per cent since 2010.

Healthcare expenditure was cut by 11.1 per cent between 2009 and 2011 alone, with significant rises in HIV infections, tuberculosis and stillbirths.

damn. a speech he gives in parliament in jan 2015

—p.127 Winters of our discontent (6) by Yanis Varoufakis 1 year, 1 month ago
128

[...] Since 2010 the troika had been promising the Greeks that the silver lining to the cloud of wage cuts would be a growth in exports, as the reduction in the costs to business within Greece would increase its competitiveness. By the end of 2014 the troika and the government were on an I-told-you-so spree, along with the foreign media, financial newspapers, government and EU economists. ‘Greece posts first current-account surplus for many decades,’ they trumpeted.

Had they considered the last time Greece posted a trade surplus, they might have understood that the situation was actually awful. This was in 1943, under the Nazi occupation, when Greeks could not afford to eat, let alone import goods from abroad, but still managed to export a few oranges, a few apples and the like. In 2014 the economic collapse had produced a similar state of affairs. The sorry reason for our current account surplus was that the deepening recession had crippled imports, while exports of goods were flat despite the massive reduction in labour costs. 8 A cause for mourning had been spun as a reason to celebrate.

—p.128 Winters of our discontent (6) by Yanis Varoufakis 1 year, 1 month ago

[...] Since 2010 the troika had been promising the Greeks that the silver lining to the cloud of wage cuts would be a growth in exports, as the reduction in the costs to business within Greece would increase its competitiveness. By the end of 2014 the troika and the government were on an I-told-you-so spree, along with the foreign media, financial newspapers, government and EU economists. ‘Greece posts first current-account surplus for many decades,’ they trumpeted.

Had they considered the last time Greece posted a trade surplus, they might have understood that the situation was actually awful. This was in 1943, under the Nazi occupation, when Greeks could not afford to eat, let alone import goods from abroad, but still managed to export a few oranges, a few apples and the like. In 2014 the economic collapse had produced a similar state of affairs. The sorry reason for our current account surplus was that the deepening recession had crippled imports, while exports of goods were flat despite the massive reduction in labour costs. 8 A cause for mourning had been spun as a reason to celebrate.

—p.128 Winters of our discontent (6) by Yanis Varoufakis 1 year, 1 month ago
212

[...] his theory that the ‘overgenerous’ European social model was no longer sustainable and had to be ditched. Comparing the costs to Europe of maintaining welfare states with the situation in places like India and China, where no social safety net exists at all, he argued that Europe was losing competitiveness and would stagnate unless social benefits were curtailed en masse. It was as if he was telling me that a start had to be made somewhere and that that somewhere might as well be Greece.

My rejoinder was that the obvious solution was the globalization of welfare benefits and living wages, rather than the globalization of insecure working poverty. In response, he reminisced at length about a secret mission he had undertaken in the 1970s and 1980s, to liaise with the East German authorities on behalf of his Christian Democrat party. ‘The DDR people were not bad,’ he told me. ‘They had good intentions for a social welfare system that was not economically possible.’ The insinuation was perfectly clear.

schauble. feb 2015

to play devil's advocate: on what grounds what schauble be right? maybe insecure working poverty is the only possibility given the current conditions of production? it's the best way forward in the long run, in order to spur innovation etc in the short term?

the rebuttal to that is: there is no way to viewing our current conditions wtihout a bias, as if from the heavens. can only view from a given position, assess acc to a particular earthly perspective. the current situation works for those who are benefiting from it, and sucks for the rest, and that is all you can say

—p.212 Invincible spring (150) by Yanis Varoufakis 1 year, 1 month ago

[...] his theory that the ‘overgenerous’ European social model was no longer sustainable and had to be ditched. Comparing the costs to Europe of maintaining welfare states with the situation in places like India and China, where no social safety net exists at all, he argued that Europe was losing competitiveness and would stagnate unless social benefits were curtailed en masse. It was as if he was telling me that a start had to be made somewhere and that that somewhere might as well be Greece.

My rejoinder was that the obvious solution was the globalization of welfare benefits and living wages, rather than the globalization of insecure working poverty. In response, he reminisced at length about a secret mission he had undertaken in the 1970s and 1980s, to liaise with the East German authorities on behalf of his Christian Democrat party. ‘The DDR people were not bad,’ he told me. ‘They had good intentions for a social welfare system that was not economically possible.’ The insinuation was perfectly clear.

schauble. feb 2015

to play devil's advocate: on what grounds what schauble be right? maybe insecure working poverty is the only possibility given the current conditions of production? it's the best way forward in the long run, in order to spur innovation etc in the short term?

the rebuttal to that is: there is no way to viewing our current conditions wtihout a bias, as if from the heavens. can only view from a given position, assess acc to a particular earthly perspective. the current situation works for those who are benefiting from it, and sucks for the rest, and that is all you can say

—p.212 Invincible spring (150) by Yanis Varoufakis 1 year, 1 month ago
237

As he spoke, Schäuble directed a piercing look at Sapin. ‘Elections cannot be allowed to change economic policy,’ he began. Greece had obligations that could not be reconsidered until the Greek programme had been completed, as per the agreements between my predecessors and the troika. The fact that the Greek programme could not be completed was apparently of no concern to him.

What startled me more than Wolfgang Schäuble’s belief that elections are irrelevant was his total lack of compunction in admitting to this view. His reasoning was simple: if every time one of the nineteen member states changed government the Eurogroup was forced to go back to the drawing board, then its overall economic policies would be derailed. Of course he had a point: democracy had indeed died the moment the Eurogroup acquired the authority to dictate economic policy to member states without anything resembling federal democratic sovereignty.

what is even the point of elections then lol. if you cant declare bankruptcy, what are you supposed to do? let the greek state fall and get occupied by somebody else? move your whole life elsewhere? submit to your humiliation?

—p.237 Invincible spring (150) by Yanis Varoufakis 1 year, 1 month ago

As he spoke, Schäuble directed a piercing look at Sapin. ‘Elections cannot be allowed to change economic policy,’ he began. Greece had obligations that could not be reconsidered until the Greek programme had been completed, as per the agreements between my predecessors and the troika. The fact that the Greek programme could not be completed was apparently of no concern to him.

What startled me more than Wolfgang Schäuble’s belief that elections are irrelevant was his total lack of compunction in admitting to this view. His reasoning was simple: if every time one of the nineteen member states changed government the Eurogroup was forced to go back to the drawing board, then its overall economic policies would be derailed. Of course he had a point: democracy had indeed died the moment the Eurogroup acquired the authority to dictate economic policy to member states without anything resembling federal democratic sovereignty.

what is even the point of elections then lol. if you cant declare bankruptcy, what are you supposed to do? let the greek state fall and get occupied by somebody else? move your whole life elsewhere? submit to your humiliation?

—p.237 Invincible spring (150) by Yanis Varoufakis 1 year, 1 month ago
315

‘Greek shipyards are dying, and skills acquired over millennia are dying with them,’ I told the ambassador. So I proposed, in a second phase of collaboration, that Cosco and other Chinese companies should invest in our three main shipyards, turning them into repair hubs for the container ships that Cosco would increasingly attract to our part of the Mediterranean. ‘But what is the point of securing the port of Piraeus,’ I continued, ‘if the railway that will transport your containers to central Europe is derelict, slow and unsafe?’ I argued that a similar investment in Greece’s railways made sense as well. Lastly: ‘Greece has a highly educated workforce, yet wages have fallen by 40 per cent. Why not get companies like Foxconn to build production or assembly facilities in a tech park, enjoying a special business tax regime in an area close to Piraeus?’

errrm buddy

—p.315 Invincible spring (150) by Yanis Varoufakis 1 year, 1 month ago

‘Greek shipyards are dying, and skills acquired over millennia are dying with them,’ I told the ambassador. So I proposed, in a second phase of collaboration, that Cosco and other Chinese companies should invest in our three main shipyards, turning them into repair hubs for the container ships that Cosco would increasingly attract to our part of the Mediterranean. ‘But what is the point of securing the port of Piraeus,’ I continued, ‘if the railway that will transport your containers to central Europe is derelict, slow and unsafe?’ I argued that a similar investment in Greece’s railways made sense as well. Lastly: ‘Greece has a highly educated workforce, yet wages have fallen by 40 per cent. Why not get companies like Foxconn to build production or assembly facilities in a tech park, enjoying a special business tax regime in an area close to Piraeus?’

errrm buddy

—p.315 Invincible spring (150) by Yanis Varoufakis 1 year, 1 month ago
317

As we were making our way to lunch, I spotted a canteen where some employees were taking a break and broke away from my hosts to speak to them. They shook my hand and smiled a lot, but when I asked them about working for Cosco they were coy. ‘It’s good,’ was about as much as they were willing to say. The expressions on their faces were hard to read. Looking over my shoulder, I saw Captain Fong and his Greek white-collar entourage watching us. I made a mental note to insist on full union rights for all workers as a prerequisite for any deal before saying my goodbyes.

lol...

—p.317 Invincible spring (150) by Yanis Varoufakis 1 year, 1 month ago

As we were making our way to lunch, I spotted a canteen where some employees were taking a break and broke away from my hosts to speak to them. They shook my hand and smiled a lot, but when I asked them about working for Cosco they were coy. ‘It’s good,’ was about as much as they were willing to say. The expressions on their faces were hard to read. Looking over my shoulder, I saw Captain Fong and his Greek white-collar entourage watching us. I made a mental note to insist on full union rights for all workers as a prerequisite for any deal before saying my goodbyes.

lol...

—p.317 Invincible spring (150) by Yanis Varoufakis 1 year, 1 month ago