Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Frivolous recriminations against Yanis Varoufakis

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard had an article Sunday in which he asks Yanis Varoufakis for responses to the scurrilous accusations of treason made against him by opposition politicians in Greece, Varoufakis reveals cloak and dagger 'Plan B' for Greece, awaits treason charges The Telegraph 07/26/2015:

Mr Varoufakis recruited a technology specialist from Columbia University to help handle the logistics. Faced with a wall of obstacles, the expert broke into the software systems of the tax office - then under the control of the EU-IMF 'Troika' - in order to obtain the reserve accounts and file numbers of every taxpayer. "We decided to hack into my ministry’s own software programme," he said.

The revelations were made to a group of sovereign wealth funds, pension funds, and life insurers - many from Asia - hosted as part of a "Greek day" on July 16 by the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum (OMFIF).

Mr Varoufakis told the Telegraph that the quotes were accurate but some reports in the Greek press had been twisted, making it look as if he had been plotting a return to the drachma from the start.

"The context of all this is that they want to present me as a rogue finance minister, and have me indicted for treason. It is all part of an attempt to annul the first five months of this government and put it in the dustbin of history," he said.

"It totally distorts my purpose for wanting parallel liquidity. I have always been completely against dismantling the euro because we never know what dark forces that might unleash in Europe," he said.
Jens Berger (Hinweise des Tages/Grexit-Pläne Nachdenkseiten 29.07.2015) comments on what he presumes Varoufakis meant by the Troika controlling the revenue office:

Dies sollte man wohl nicht all zu wörtlich nehmen. Die zuständige Abteilungsleiterin verfügte vielmehr – nach Aussagen eines EZB-Mitarbeiters – über „gute Kontakte nach Brüssel“ und hätte der Troika womöglich Details zu den griechischen Planungen gesteckt. Und hier sind dann auch beim Kern des Problems von Syriza: Die griechische Linkspartei arbeitet nicht nur gegen die Troika, sondern auch gegen einen unüberschaubaren Block aus politischen Beamten, die noch von den Vorgängerregierungen eingesetzt wurden und offenbar nicht loyal gegenüber der griechischen Regierung sind. In diesem Kontext einen überzeugenden „Plan B“ zu entwickeln, dürfte unmöglich sein. Dies wird dann wohl auch der Grund sein, warum das Team um Varoufakis nie einen echten „Plan B“ entwickelt hat. Aber das kann man ihm wohl kaum zum Vorwurf machen.

[One shouldn't take that all too literally. It's much more that the responsible division head - according to statement of an ECB employee - had "good contacts in Brussels" and would, if possible, have sent the Troika details to the Greek planning. And also here we are at the core of Syriza's problem: The Greek left party is working not only against the Troika, but also against an incalculable block of political bureaucrats that had already been put in place by the preceding regime and clearly are not loyal to the Greek government. In this context, to develop a convincing "Plan B," would be impossible. This would clearly also be the reason why the team around Varoufakis never developed a true "Plan B." But one can hardly blame him for that.]
The internal link in that quote about the "ECB employee" is to Andreas Petzold, Ein "Putsch"-Plan so realitätsfern wie Varoufakis selbst Stern 28.07.2015. But his reference is more vague that to a specific ECB employee. I'm not sure it matters much in practice. But it's not clear from these reports that the Troika control to which Varoufakis referred in his now-famous conference call was a such an informal nature or more official.

I would add that I'm not sure anyone is blaming Varofakis for not developing a more complete Plan B. Rather, the pro-austerity Troika allies in the Greek opposition is criticizing him for trying to prepare for that contingency.

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