Yanis Varoufakis

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Yanis Varoufakis
Γιάνης Βαρουφάκης
Yanis Varoufakis
Minister of Finance
Assumed office
27 January 2015
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras
Preceded by Gikas Hardouvelis
Personal details
Born (1961-03-24) 24 March 1961 (age 53)
Athens, Greece
Political party Independent[1]
(member of the SYRIZA parliamentary faction from 2015)
Alma mater University of Essex
University of Birmingham
Website yanisvaroufakis.eu

Yanis Varoufakis (Greek: Γιάνης Βαρουφάκης; born 24 March 1961)[2] is a Greek economist. He is the current Finance Minister of Greece.[3] In the January 2015 general election, he was elected to the Greek parliament, representing SYRIZA,[4] and took office in the new government of Alexis Tsipras two days later, on 27 January 2015.[5] He is a political economist, professor, and author, and has dual Greek-Australian nationality.

Varoufakis is a participant in the current debates on the global and European crisis, the author of The Global Minotaur and several academic texts on economics and game theory, a Professor of Economic Theory at the University of Athens and a private consultant for Valve Corporation.

Early life and family[edit]

Varoufakis was born to an affluent family and attended the Moraitis School. His father Giorgos Varoufakis fought on the communist side in the Greek Civil War and was imprisoned on the island of Makronisos. Despite his radical past, the father became chairman of Halyvourgiki, Greece’s biggest steel producer. Varoufakis’s mother was active in the Women’s Union of Greece, founded by members of PASOK, the socialist party, to promote gender equality.[6] Varoufakis says he set-up one of PASOK's first youth-wings. He also became active in support of the Troops Out Movement which campaigns for a British withdrawal from Northern Ireland. He says growing up Ireland was "very close to our hearts" with his family singing Irish rebel songs and following the conflict in Northern Ireland. He says he and those he grew up with considered Belfast their "second home".[7]

While in elementary school Varoufakis decided to spell his first name with one "n" (nu), rather than the standard two, for "aesthetic" reasons. When his teacher gave him a low mark for that, he became angry and has continued spelling his first name with one "n" ever since.[8]


Varoufakis was inspired to study economics after he met Andreas Papandreou, an academic economist who founded PASOK and became Greece’s first socialist prime minister.[6] After training in mathematics and statistics, he received his PhD in economics in 1987 at the University of Essex. Before that he had already begun teaching economics and econometrics at the University of Essex and the University of East Anglia. In 1988, he spent a year as a Fellow at the University of Cambridge. From 1989 until 2000 he taught as Senior Lecturer in Economics at the Department of Economics of the University of Sydney. In 2000, he moved back to his native Greece where he became Professor of Economic Theory at the University of Athens. In 2002, Varoufakis established The University of Athens Doctoral Program in Economics (UADPhilEcon), which he directed until 2008. From January 2013 he taught at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin. In 2013 he was appointed the Athens desk editor of the online magazine WDW Review, in which he contributed until January 2015.

Euro crisis, economic policy and A Modest Proposal[edit]

From January 2004 to December 2006, Varoufakis served as economic adviser to George Papandreou, of whose government he was to become an ardent critic a few years later. The author of several books on game theory, Varoufakis is also a recognised speaker and often appears as guest analyst for news media like the BBC, CNN, Sky News, RT and Bloomberg TV among others. In November 2010, he and Stuart Holland, a former Labour Party MP and economics professor at the University of Coimbra (Portugal), published A Modest Proposal, a set of economic policies aimed at overcoming the euro crisis.[9] In 2013, Version 4.0 of A Modest Proposal appeared with the American economist James K. Galbraith as a third co-author. This version was published in late 2013 in French with a supporting foreword by Michel Rocard, former Prime Minister of France. Since September 2011, Truman Factor features select articles by Varoufakis in English and in Spanish. Varoufakis compares the role of the US economy since the 1970s in relation to the rest of the world with the minotaur.[10]

Political career[edit]

Varoufakis was appointed Finance Minister by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in the aftermath of the SYRIZA victory in the January 25 parliamentary election. A self-described 'libertarian Marxist'- "In truth, Karl Marx was responsible for framing my perspective of the world we live in, from my childhood to this day. It is not something that I volunteer to talk about in 'polite society' much these days because the very mention of the M-word switches audiences off." [6] Varoufakis sits with Syriza legislators in parliament but is not a party member.[6]

The Globalizing Wall[edit]

In 2005/6, Varoufakis travelled extensively with artist Danae Stratou along seven dividing lines around the world (in Palestine, Ethiopia-Eritrea, Kosovo, Belfast, Cyprus, Kashmir and the US-Mexico border). Stratou produced the installation CUT: 7 dividing lines, while Varoufakis wrote texts that then became a political-economic account of these divisions, entitled The Globalizing Wall. In 2010 Stratou and Varoufakis founded the project Vital Space.[11]

Valve Corporation[edit]

Beginning in March 2012, Varoufakis became Economist-in-Residence at Valve Corporation. He researched the virtual economy on the Steam digital delivery platform, specifically looking at exchange rates and trade deficits. In June 2012, he began a blog about his research at Valve. In February 2013 his function at Valve was to work on a game for predicting trends in gaming.[12][13][14][15]

Personal life[edit]

Varoufakis is married to installation artist Danae Stratou, who is his second wife. He has a daughter from his first marriage.[16]

Books in English[edit]

  • Europe after the Minotaur: Greece and the Future of the Global Economy. Zed Books, 2015 (ISBN 9781783606085)
  • Economic Indeterminacy: A personal encounter with the economists' most peculiar nemesis. London and New York: Routledge, 2013 (ISBN 0415668492)
  • The Global Minotaur: America, the True Origins of the Financial Crisis and the Future of the World Economy. Zed Books, 2011 (translations in German, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Czech and Finnish); second edition 2013
  • Modern Political Economics: Making sense of the post-2008 world. London and New York: Routledge, 2011 (with Joseph Halevi and Nicholas J. Theocarakis)
  • Game Theory: A critical text. London and New York: Routledge, 2004 (with Shaun P. Hargreaves-Heap; translation in Japanese)
  • (ed.): Game Theory: Critical Perspectives. Volumes 1–5, London and New York: Routledge, 2001
  • Foundations of Economics: A beginner's companion. London and New York: Routledge, 1998 (translation in Mandarin)
  • Game Theory: A critical introduction. London and New York: Routledge, 1995 (with Shaun Hargreaves-Heap)
  • Rational Conflict. Oxford: Blackwell, 1991
  • (ed.): Conflict in Economics. Hemel Hempstead: Harvester Wheatsheaf and New York: St Martin's Press, 1990 (with David P. T. Young )

His next book currently has the working title Reverse Alchemy: Europe on the Road to Disintegration.


Selected interviews/reviews[edit]


  1. ^ "The rise of 'Dr Doom': Yanis Varoufakis' explosive new role". The Sydney Morning Herald. 29 January 2015. Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  2. ^ "Curriculum Vitae of Yanis Varoufakis". UOA Economics department. 
  3. ^ Philip Innan and Katie Allen (26 January 2015). "The Guardian". Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  4. ^ Helena Smith (26 January 2015). "The Guardian". Retrieved 26 January 2015. 
  5. ^ Prarthito Maity (January 27, 2015), Valve Economist Yanis Varoufakis Appointed Finance Minister of Greece, International Business Times 
  6. ^ a b c d "Yanis Varoufakis, Greek finance minister". The Financial Times Limited. 6 February 2015. Retrieved 14 February 2015. 
  7. ^ "Meet the new Greek Finance Minister: Our Robbie Smyth spoke to Yanis Varoufakis". An Phoblacht. 27 January 2015. Retrieved 19 February 2015. 
  8. ^ Christides, Giorgos (13 February 2015). "Profile: Yanis Varoufakis, Greek bailout foe". BBC. 
  9. ^ Yanis Varoufakis: Euro Crisis
  10. ^ Russell Shorto: The Way Greeks Live Now. In: The New York Times. 13 February 2012
  11. ^ Vital Space: Mission and Biographies
  12. ^ Yanis Varoufakis (15 February 2013). "Yanis Varoufakis' Twitter". Retrieved 14 July 2013. 
  13. ^ Yanis Varoufakis (14 June 2012). "It All Began With a Strange Email". Valve Corporation. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  14. ^ Daniel Nye Griffiths: The Value of Fun: Valve Software Appoints In-House Economist. In: Forbes. 15 June 2012
  15. ^ "Real lessons from virtual worlds". Financial Times. Retrieved 31 January 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  16. ^ "Profile: Yanis Varoufakis, Greek bailout foe". BBC. 17 February 2015. Retrieved 17 February 2015. 

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Gikas Hardouvelis
Minister of Finance
since 27 January 2015