Do Not Fear Austerity: A Public Meeting with Yanis Varoufakis

coinsAlessandro de Arcangelis, UCL PhD student in History, reports on a ‘public meeting’ with Yanis Varoufakis, and his advice to Jeremy Corbyn.

It is shortly after 19.00 when the crowd gathered at the Emmanuel Centre in Westminster bursts into a thunderous applause. Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis walks on stage with unassuming composure. The event, organised on 14 September 2015 by the anti-austerity movement The People’s Assembly, sold out in a matter of hours and dozens of people are standing at the back of the room, patiently waiting to hear the polarizing and often controversial Greek politician’s address.

Hanging above the speakers’ table is a quotation from John 10:10, whose towering presence is made rather apposite by the vibrant left-leaning atmosphere: “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly”. Beneath it, the panel is impressive: Paul Mackney, former trade union leader; Romayne Phoenix, the chair of the People’s Assembly; James Meadway, New Economics Foundation chief economist;  Rosa Pavanelli, General Secretary of Public Services International; Diane Abbott, Labour MP; and, obviously, Yanis Varoufakis. Rumour has it that the newly elected Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn may eventually arrive to join the other speakers, but he is at the House of Commons, voting against trade union reforms. Continue reading

In bad faith

Ashoka Mody, Visiting Professor at Princeton University and former Deputy Director in the IMF’s Research and European Departments, critiques the IMF report published on 2 July, on the eve of Greece’s referendum. This report found that Greek debt was not sustainable and deep debt relief along with substantial new financing was needed to stabilize Greece. This report, according to Mody, reveals that the creditors negotiated with Greece in bad faith. He suggests that the Greek debt burden is much greater than portrayed by the report, and that the policy measures proposed to reduce that burden, including more austerity, will make matters worse. This article was first published on bruegel.

On 2 July, the IMF released its analysis of whether Greek debt was sustainable or not.  The report said that Greek debt was not sustainable and deep debt relief along with substantial new financing were needed to stabilize Greece. In reaching this new assessment, the IMF stated it had learned many lessons. Among them: Greeks would not take adequate structural reforms to spur growth, they would not sell enough of their assets to repay their debt, and they were unable to undertake sufficient fiscal austerity. That left no choice but to grant Greece greater debt relief and to provide new financing to tide Greece over till it could stand on its own feet. The relief, the IMF, says must be provided by European creditors while the IMF is repaid in whole.

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Greece: Voting for or against Europe

In this post, Pavlos Eleftheriadis, Associate Professor of Law and a Fellow of Mansfield College at the University of Oxford and a spokesman on EU affairs for the Greek political party ‘To Potami’, argues that a vote in the Greek referendum on Sunday will be a choice for or against Europe.

The Greek referendum is a choice for or against Europe, for the drachma or the Euro, a choice between isolation or engagement with Europe. It is also a vote of confidence, or not, for the new government.

A ‘no’ vote, which the government of Syriza and the Independent Greeks propose, will begin a process of gradual disengagement from the Eurozone and possibly from the EU. A ‘yes’ vote, on the other hand, will be a spectacular defeat for the government, which only a few weeks ago had an approval rating of 60 or 70 per cent. It will also be a powerful statement of intent of the Greek people for staying the course of painful reform, which began in 2010 and has seen the largest fiscal consolidation in history and a drop of 25 per cent in GDP.

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