Sunday, June 25, 2017

Brief summary of the problem with the EU's Greek policy

Martin Wolf's mini-review of Yanis Varoufakis' new book, Adults in the Room, due to be published in the US in the fall:

This is a superbly written account of the struggle to alleviate the austerity imposed upon the Greek people by the eurozone. Greece, argues Varoufakis, has been put in a debtors’ prison and robbed of autonomy and dignity for the indefinite future. Critics would argue that he failed as finance minister in 2015 because he was insufficiently politic. More plausibly, he could never have succeeded, such were the vested interests arrayed against him. This outcome was — and is — a tragedy, because he was — and is — right. The bulk of Greek debt should indeed be cancelled outright. Read and weep. [my emphasis]
The Greek economy continues to be a grim example of the miserable, destructive failure of neoliberal economics. It has other description. I tend to call it Herbert Hoover/Heinrich Brüning economics because it involves applying drastic pro-cyclical economic policies during a depression. And the Hoover/Brüning label is also a reminder of the potentially large political consequences of such misguided policies.

Neoliberalism as economic policy does have its own particular history as a response to the welfare state. In some key ways, it's more acutely ("free-market") liberal than the Hoover/Brüning edition. A more common synonym for neoliberalism is the Washington Consensus. In the worst, imperialistic, anti-popular sense of "Washington."

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