miércoles, 25 de octubre de 2017

"And the weak suffer what they must?" - Yanis Varoufakis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Books on economic issues are usually difficult to read unless you have some previous knowledge on the matter. The merit of Yannis Varaoufakis is having written a book on monetary history in postwar Europe which is readable for all. The story is so readable that sometimes is as gripping as a detective novel where the murdered is democracy, the weapon the ideal of a more united Europe and the killers an elite of non-elected burocrats and academics.

Varoufakis presented us the tragedy of the making-of of European Monetary Union, a succession of crisis where each solution have drive towards a greater probability to suffer a bigger crisis where the strong do what they can and the weak suffer what they must. According with the author, the seeds were planted with the creation of the European Union (then the European Economic Community) as a tool to defend the interest of the Central European industry and French agriculture, without any popular demand in its basis. As a consequence, the managers of this tool has always been more worry of saving the interest of the richer whatever its social consequences for the rest of the society.

Against the opinion of the founding fathers of the Union and many of its successors in ruling Member States or the European institutions, Varoufakis defends that a closer economic union is not bringing us to a closer union. Futhermore, the absence of a real political debate in the European institutions on taxation and spending at the European level makes impossible even a real economic union. To sum up, there is not real sovereign control on the decissions of the burcrats in charge of the economic policies (the European Commission), which take advantange of each crisis to capture more power from the Member States without adding any (or few) popular control on the machinery. The outstanding example for the author is the Eurogroup, the institution where the main economic decissions are taken that even is not described in the Treaties as an institution.

The author, as you may expect, is particularly critic with the construction of the monetary union. He tries to show the impossibility of success os a monetary union without a solidarity on the debts and based only on free trade. Varoufakis present the contrast of this reality with how the economic issues are dealt in a real union as the USA as the reason for a European Union doomed to fail.

Perhaps, you will not be agree to all or even any of the arguments that Yanis Varoufakis uses in his book, but the book is also interesting to know the story of the European monetary union. In the book you will discover its origin as a tool to overcome Bretton Woods sinking, its first stages as a mere stabilizer of currencies exchange value, the role of a closer monetary Union in the making-of of Brexit and how the dream of a French control of a German currency failed.

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