Yanis spills more in The Monthly

From The Monthly in a sccop:

Let me just describe the moment after the announcement of the result. I made a statement in the Ministry of Finance and then I proceeded to the prime minister’s offices, the Maximos [also the official residency of the Greek prime minister], to meet with Aleksis Tsipras and the rest of the ministry. I was elated. That resounding no, unexpected, it was like a ray of light that pierced a very deep, thick darkness. I was walking to the offices, buoyed and lighthearted, carrying with me that incredible energy of the people outside. They had overcome fear, and with their overcoming of fear it was like I was floating on air. But the moment I entered the Maximos this whole sensation simply vanished. It was also an electric atmosphere in there, but a negatively charged one. It was like the leadership had been left behind by the people. And the sensation I got was one of terror: What do we do now?

I could tell [Tsipras] was dispirited. It was a major victory, one that I believe he actually savoured, deep down, but one he couldn’t handle. He knew that the cabinet couldn’t handle it. It was clear that there were elements in the government putting pressure on him. Already, within hours, he had been pressured by major figures in the government, effectively to turn the no into a yes, to capitulate.

[There were people in the government] who were counting on the referendum as an exit strategy, not as a fighting strategy.

When I realised that, I put to him that he had a very clear choice: to use the 61.5% no vote as an energising force, or [to] capitulate. And I said to him, before he had a chance to answer, ‘If you do the latter, I will clear out. I will resign if you choose the strategy of giving in. I will not undermine you, but I will steal into the night.’

Tsipras looked at me and said, ‘You realise that they will never give an agreement to you and me. They want to be rid of us.’

And then he told me the truth, that there were other members of the government pushing him into the direction of capitulation. He was clearly depressed.

I answered him, ‘You do the best with the choice that you’ve made, one that I disagree with wholeheartedly, but I am not here to undermine you.’

So then I went home. It was 4.30 in the morning. I was distraught – not personally, I don’t give a damn about moving out of the ministry; it was actually a great relief. I had to sit down between 4.30 and 9 in the morning and script the precise wording of my resignation because I wanted on one hand that it was supportive of Aleksis and not undermining him but on the other hand [to] make clear why I was leaving, that I was not abandoning ship. The ship itself had abandoned the course.”

The German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble [had a plan].  I called it the Schäuble plan. He has been planning a Greek exit as part of his plan for reconstructing the eurozone. This is no theory. The reason why I am saying it is because he told me so.

This is Schäuble’s way of exacting concessions from France and Italy, that was what the game always was. The game was between Germany, France and Italy, and Greece was – not so much a scapegoat – we have an expression in Greece.

It is a clear strategy for influencing from Paris and from Rome,particularly from Paris, the kind of concessions towards creating a disciplinarian, Teutonic model of the eurozone.

Doesn’t forgive your own stupidity, Yanis, but it goes to show just how chaotic the negotiation was on the Greek side. Divided and conquered.

David Llewellyn-Smith

David Llewellyn-Smith is Chief Strategist at the MB Fund and MB Super. David is the founding publisher and editor of MacroBusiness and was the founding publisher and global economy editor of The Diplomat, the Asia Pacific’s leading geo-politics and economics portal.

He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.

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Comments

  1. Stupidity? But isn’t MacroBusiness the Syriza of the local politico/economic scene? And aren’t you Yanis?

      • It takes something special; courage or perhaps what you term ‘stupidity’ to challenge that which is. Syriza gave it a shot. Did it get it right? Not on all counts by any means, but the message for the future was clear – what we have today isn’t sustainable, equitable or safe. Yanis was, and still is by the look of this piece, the orator. Someone had to be. He didn’t have a script to read from, like all those across the table from him. It was new ground.But he had a passion for what he knew to be right.
        MacroBusiness ,likewise, has a vision and passion. It started with House and Holes, and those issues still exist for us locally as surely as unpayable debt does in Greece. One way or another, MacroBusiness and Yanis Varoufakis will be proven to right.
        (NB: The question you posed changed whilst I was responding !
        So to add: Things haven’t gone according to the suggestion MB had 4 years ago, so the approach has had to change. The “Slow Melt’, melted etc, so tactics had to change. Should Greece have exited years back? Of course! But they didn’t, primarily because ‘things changed’. All YV has done, did, was adapt as MB has done))

      • HnH,
        I get your point, but no need to be so flippant towards Janet as she also has made a reasonable point.

      • Janet Macrobusiness is enslaved by the dogma of the right as Tsipras (ratings agencies, bond vigilantes, boogie men etc)

        I don’t see how varoufakis was stupid he simply wasn’t willing to usurp an elected leader regardless how strong his convictions

      • Ronin8317MEMBER

        Greece can legally print 20 Euro notes. Instead of closing down the banks, Yanis should have printed. It does validate the theory that Tsipras is merely a puppet, and the real power controlling him don’t care about Greece at all.

      • Meh, exiting will be the best thing for Greece in the long term. But exit won’t happen until the pain of staying in is unbearable. Yanis knows that.

        I’m not saying Yanis is a mastermind – there are too many unpredictable factors and vested interests for Greece to be able to mastermind anything at the moment.

        Greece within the Euro is leaky ship adrift on a stormy sea, without a rudder. It will go wherever the ocean pushes it. The best the captain can do is ready the crew to jump off when the ship passes near enough to solid land, and then swim for their lives! To blame Yanis for the ship not drifting close enough to land yet is to expect miracles.

      • St JacquesMEMBER

        Gral, the no vote had given the leadership the national mandate to stand their ground in the negotiations, and by implication quit the EZ if no common ground could be found. That the leadership crumbled as it did was unforgiveable. I couldn’t believe it so I rationalised it as some sort of clever strategy. Silly, but then it came from my disbelief at Tsipras failure to lead. Had they not planned for such a possibility?

      • Greece actually got a better deal after the referendum than what they got before. If you read the actual documents that outline the agreement (not newspaper headlines) what was agreed was actually quite different.

        A chunk of the debt has been extended so far into the future that paying it back is meaningless.

        The grandstanding about Greece backing down was a ploy to keep German voters happy with a deal that was ultimately better for Greece. Schauble knew this had to be done, as he knew that the previous offer was actually impossible for Greece to comply with – they simply don’t have the money.

        The referendum was about saying no to the initial deal, not exiting.

        The bigger question is whether virtually destroying the Greek banking system and crashing the economy even further was worth it. That’s debatable, but the Greek people voted no.

        I would view those terrible outcomes as inevitable eventually – at least this way Greece got some moral capital out of it, as now more Europeans are coming to understand how harsh the situation is, how untenable Greece’s position is, and Brussels technocrats clinging to the idea that ‘Greece, Portugal, Italy, France must pay’ are increasingly seen as delusional.

      • St JacquesMEMBER

        Thanks for that terrific link Ermington. I understand Varoufakis’ motivations better now, and it’s clear he’d rather be seen a fool than begin the process of disintegration of Europe that he believes can only lead to a repeat of the ’30s (although I’m not convinced, but hey, he is a smart fella). Coming makes the point that Varoufakis did the right thing not to oppose Tsipras, who is an elected rep. Janet is right, it’s the long game that matters and MB should know that from experience.

  2. pyjamasbeforechristMEMBER

    Maybe Yanis could do an interview with MB? Could make for a very interesting read.

      • ErmingtonPlumbing

        Yes give a free subscription to Yanis and encourage him to join the fray in the MB comments section, or, even better make him one of your regular contributors, it would raise MBs profile and readership and even better it would totally give 3d1k and his ilk the shits. 😉

  3. HnH

    He did have a loaded gun. He pointed it when he called the referendum. The Greeks voted to have it held up. But the political elite took it away from him in the aftermath as evidenced in the monthly article.

    Pretty arrogant to call the person with the most vocal and coherent argument for an alternative to the troikas austerity, and for Greece’s sovereignty, stupid. LoL.

    I second getting him in for an interview on HnH. I think we’d all learn a lot.

  4. “Interestingly enough, the finance minister of Germany is a man who understands this better than anyone. In a break during a meeting, I asked him, ‘Would you sign this, this agreement?’ and he said, ‘No, I wouldn’t. This is no good for your people.’ This is the most frustrating part of it, that at the personal level you can have this human conversation, but in meetings it is impossible to bring it up, it is impossible to have humanity inform policy-making. The policy debate is structured in such a way that humanity has to be left outside the room.”

    Fascinating

  5. “Stupid” Disappointing use of words H&H, especially in an article about divide and conquer. Are you the one being played here?

    • Often wonder if H&H is a stooge planted by our banking overlords to spread disinformation in the guise of progressive economic thought

  6. Whats really happening here is that the Eurozone have lost it and the Project is now under fire from every conceivable direction. YV was a brave man to stand up to the intimidation, the pressure was simply gigantic in every way. That Syzira wouldn’t carry it through to its conclusion was disappointing but not surprising. But what they have done is opened the eyes of everyone to whats really going on here. This will only strengthen the tide coming against these technocrats and German bullies. And the sheer impossibility of what they’re trying to achieve.

    Who knows what the event that breaks it all apart will be, but IMO we’ll look back on this episode as one catalyst for that event.

  7. There are many meaning of the word ‘stupid’ . I think HnH might of meant that there was a lack of care (one definition of ‘stupid’). To me it did seem somewhat careless for the Government to threaten to leave the E.U. where it seems there was not even a majority of the Government prepared to leave the E.U. To me it did also seem somewhat careless to put it to the people where it also seems there was not a majority of the Government prepared to leave the E.U. Saying that, because ‘stupid’ may be used to mean far more harsh things I can understand people thinking H&H may have come across a little too harshly, but when I try imagine what a Greek living in Greece may feel now knowing what happened, I think that after that Greek had read what H&H wrote, that Greek may think that H&H did not come across harshly enough.