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<nettime> Yanis Varoufakis interview by Thomas Fazi (ONEURO)
Patrice Riemens on Mon, 29 Dec 2014 21:16:07 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Yanis Varoufakis interview by Thomas Fazi (ONEURO)

Now that the Greek parliament just declined to come up with a majority
vote for PM Samaras' presidential candidate, and hence will be dissolved
and new elections held in February, outcome feverishly uncertain, it is
probably nice to read Yanis Varoufakis' thoughts a few weeks before the
last, celarly foreseable developments. YF's blog entry is dated Dec 15,

original to:
(loads of comments - and replies)

 Th F:   There's a lot of talk about Greece's supposed 'recovery', a sign
of the 'success' of austerity. How do you judge this narrative, and how
would you describe the real state of the Greek economy? (It would be
great if you could mention what you said in Florence, about Greece's 'GDP
growth' being non-existent when deflation is taken into consideration)

YV  Greece is and remains in a Great Depression. Seven years of
precipitous falls in income, coupled with negative investment, have
spawned a humanitarian crisis. In each of these years, the European
Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund
predicted that recovery was "around the corner". It was not! Now, on the
basis of one quarter of positive real GDP growth, they are celebrating the
recession's 'end'. But if we look carefully at the numbers, it turns out
that, even according to official figures, the recession is continuing.
Consider this: real GDP rose by 0.7% at a time that prices, on average,
fell by 1.9%. I remind our readers that real GDP equals GDP measured in
euros divided by an index of average prices. Given that this index went
down by 1.9%, and that the whole ratio (real GDP) only rose by 0.7%, this
means that GDP as measured in euros declined! So, the rise in real GDP
happened because national income, in euros, went up. It rose because total
income, in euros, fell more slowly than prices did. Preposterously, the
powers-that-be expect the Greek people to celebrate this as the 'End of
Recession'. They won't!

    Regarding the state of the Greek economy: is this simply the
unintended result of 'flawed', ideologically-driven policies, or
should it rather be considered the desired outcome of such policies?

Neither, I think. These policies were the only policies they could come up
with which would not require an admission that the Eurozone was badly
designed and that the crisis is systemic. They were also the only policies
consistent with their prime objective; that is, to shield bankers from
expropriation by the European Union or member-states. In short, a proud
nation was forced into an internal devaluation that caused great hardship,
and made private and public debts unpayable, so as to maintain the lie
that the Eurozone design was pristine and, more pertinently, to hide the
fact that their number one priority was to shift gargantuan losses from
the books of the private banks onto the shoulders of the weakest of
taxpayers. Once this strategy was in place, it was embellished with
neoliberal ideology...

    Following the call for early presidential elections, markets have gone
into a panic. Do you think their fears of an early general election
are justified? If so, what are they so afraid of, in your opinion?

They are justified. What they are afraid is that the twin bubbles that the
Berlin, Frankfurt and Brussels so elaborately pumped up over the last
year, in the bond and stock markets, so as to pretend that Greece was
recovering, would burst. But this is the fate of bubbles: they burst. And
the sooner they do the better our chance to facing reality and doing
something to make it better for the majority of the people -- both in
Greece and in the Eurozone at large.

    Do you think a victory by SYRIZA is a realistically possible option?
Or will establishment forces avoid that outcome at all costs?

Both. There is no doubt that the establishment will throw everything they
can at SYRIZA, inspiring the maximum amount of terror in the hearts and
minds of Greek voters. But, at the same time, it is looking increasingly
likely that this campaign of fear will fail to prevent a SYRIZA victory.

    How do you judge Mr. Juncker's call to avoid the 'wrong outcome' in
the elections (i.e., the victory of 'extreme forces')?

It reveals a deep-seated contempt for democracy and a colonial attitude
that makes a mockery of the notion of a Union that respects the
sovereignty of its member-states. The European Commission is supposed to
be answerable to the citizens of member-states. The citizens of
member-states are not answerable to the Commission and, by definition, the
Commission can have no view on what is a 'correct' and what is a 'wrong'
electoral outcome. Mr Juncker took his office further into disrepute by
overstepping the mark and widening spectacularly the democratic deficit
typical of the European Union. His intervention was probably one of the
most fiercely anti-European moves, to the extent that he managed
singlehandedly to de-legitimise the Commission and, by extension, the

    Could you outline the main points of SYRIZA's program (for Greece and
for the EMU)?

In three short sentences: First, a SYRIZA government will work tirelessly
to ensure that Europe has the 'conversation' it has so far refused to have
about the faulty design of the Eurozone and the fact that the bailouts
were toxic both for the Periphery and for core countries like Germany.
Secondly, it will strive to render Greece's social economy viable again
through a New Deal for Europe that lifts the veil of depression from the
whole Periphery -- not just Greece. Thirdly, it will struggle to reform
Greece, both its public and private sectors, in a manner that enhances
creativity, improves productivity and shapes a better society.

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