Yanis Varoufakis

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Yanis Varoufakis
Γιάνης Βαρουφάκης

Minister of Finance
In office
27 January 2015 – 6 July 2015
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras
Preceded by Gikas Hardouvelis
Succeeded by Euclid Tsakalotos
Member of the Hellenic Parliament
In office
25 January 2015 – 20 September 2015
Constituency Athens B
Personal details
Born (1961-03-24) 24 March 1961 (age 54)
Athens, Greece
Political party Syriza (2015)
Alma mater University of Essex
University of Birmingham
Religion None (atheist)[1]
Website Official website
Academic career
Field Game theory
Political economy
School or tradition
Libertarian Marxist
Influences Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes, Joan Robinson, Michał Kalecki, John Kenneth Galbraith, Philip Mirowski, Paul Sweezy, Axel Leijonhufvud
Influenced James Galbraith, Stuart Holland, Steve Keen

Yanis Varoufakis (Greek: Ιωάννης "Γιάνης" Βαρουφάκης,[2] pronounced [ˈʝanis varuˈfacis]; born 24 March 1961)[3] is a Greek-Australian economist[4] who was a member of Greek parliament between January and September 2015. He represented the ruling Syriza party and held the position of Minister of Finance for seven months.[5] He voted against the terms of the third bailout package for Greece.[6]

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, Professor of Economic Theory at the University of Athens and a private consultant for Valve Corporation. He describes himself as a '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."[7]

Early life and family[edit]

Varoufakis was born in Palaio Faliro[8] to an affluent and politically interested Greek Orthodox Christian family.[citation needed] His father Giorgos Varoufakis fought on the communist side in the Greek Civil War and spent years imprisoned on the island of Makronisos and in exile[citation needed]. He however eventually turned from United Democratic Left (EDA) to the socialist PASOK,[8] and became chairman of Halyvourgiki, Greece’s biggest steel producer. Varoufakis’ mother abandoned her conservative background[8] and engaged with the PASOK-aligned Women’s Union of Greece promoting gender equality.[7]

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 Ireland was "very close to our hearts" as he was growing up, 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".[9]

Attending the private Moraitis School, Varoufakis decided early to spell his first name with one 'n', 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.[10]


Varoufakis began his university education at the University of Essex in 1978. He moved to the University of Birmingham in 1982, obtaining a MSc in mathematical statistics. He completed his PhD in economics at the University of Essex.[11][12]

Academic career[edit]

Varoufakis at Subversive Festival 2013 in Zagreb, Croatia.

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.[7] After training in mathematics and statistics, he received his PhD in economics in 1987 at the University of Essex.

University of Essex and University of East Anglia[edit]

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 lecturer at the University of Cambridge.

University of Sydney[edit]

From 1989 until 2000 he taught as senior lecturer in economics at the Department of Economics of the University of Sydney.

University of Athens[edit]

In 2000, he accepted the offer of Yannis Stournaras to become Professor of Economic Theory at the University of Athens.[7] In 2002, Varoufakis established The University of Athens Doctoral Program in Economics (UADPhilEcon), which he directed until 2008.

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.[13][14][15][16]

University of Texas, Austin[edit]

From January 2013 he taught at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin as a visiting professor.

In 2013, he was appointed the Athens desk editor of the online magazine WDW Review,[17] in which he contributed until January 2015.

The IUC of Turin, Italy[edit]

On 22 January 2015,[citation needed] the International University College of Turin awarded to Varoufakis a Honorary Professorship in Comparative Law Economics and Finance for his extraordinary theoretical contribution to the understanding of the global economic crisis.[18]

Political career[edit]

Advisor to the Papandreou government[edit]

From January 2004 to December 2006, Varoufakis served as economic advisor to George Papandreou, of whose government he was to become an ardent critic a few years later.[19]

Greek Finance Minister[edit]

Varoufakis was elected to the Greek parliament, representing Syriza,[20] and took office in the new government of Alexis Tsipras two days later, on 27 January 2015.[21] He was appointed finance minister by Tsipras shortly after the election victory. The party promised to renegotiate Greece's debt and the reduce austerity measures.[22][23]

In February 2015, the government needed to negotiate an extension on its loans with the Troika. Eurozone officials warned Varoufakis that talking to journalists of "bankruptcy" could lead to capital flight.[24] On 20 February a four-month extension on the loans was agreed.[25]

In March 2015, the Wall Street Journal pointed to several tensions between Greece and the other Eurozone countries, saying that some countries feel they have taken the "tough medicine" and the €195 billion owed is not insignificant. Further, they stated other governments have philosophical differences with Varoufakis and his Anglosphere and Keynesian leanings. Peter Ludlow said Varoufakis and his colleagues "turned instinctively... to the U.K. and the U.S. even before they called on the European Left."[26]

On 20 March 2015, Varoufakis wrote that he felt that the Greek state has not been able to service its debts since 2010. Furthermore, taking the "bailout" loan in that year was a mistake, as it transferred private bank losses to the Greek taxpayer. Also, he wrote that the latest agreement "was an excellent opportunity to move forward."[27]

In a discussion with Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz on invitation of U.S. economic think tank Institute for New Economic Thinking, Varoufakis stated on 9 April 2015 that "the Greek state does not have the capacity to develop public assets." Therefore, he announced that his government was "restarting the privatization process." However, unlike the former governments they would insist on establishing public–private partnerships with the state retaining a minority stake to generate state revenues. They would also require a minimum investment on behalf of the bidder, and "decent working conditions" for the workers.[28] Varoufakis also said that although the government needed to avoid a primary budget deficit, the bailout program's target of a surplus of 4.5 percent of GDP was too high.[29]

On the 5th July 2015, there was a bailout referendum. Varoufakis had declared he would resign as Finance Minister if Greeks voted 'yes'.[30] The outcome of the vote was 'no', however, he was forced to resign the day after on the on 6th July.[31][6] He stated that "other European participants" had expressed a wish for his absence in negotiations.[32] Due to family reasons when the revised bailout bill was voted in, on July 10 2015, Varoufakis was not present.[33] His views at the time are quoted as follows:

"I’m not going to betray my own view, that I honed back in 2010, that this country must stop extending and pretending, we must stop taking on new loans pretending that we’ve solved the problem, when we haven’t; when we have made our debt even less sustainable on condition of further austerity that even further shrinks the economy; and shifts the burden further onto the have nots, creating a humanitarian crisis. It’s something I’m not going to accept. I’m not going to be party to."

— Yanis Varoufakis, July 2015[34]

On Friday 14th August, the bailout vote succeeded by 222 votes to 64. Up to 40 Syriza members including Varoufakis voted against the bailout.[35]. On the 20th, the Prime Minister of Greece resigned and called a snap election due to the loss of support from rebelling Syriza MPs.[36] Syriza disallowed any MP who voted against the bailout package standing for the party. Varoufakis did not go on to represent Popular Unity, unlike many of his ex-Syriza colleagues, as he considered the party too isolationist. Varoufakis choose not to stand in the election, saying he would focus on creating European network that would 'restor[e] democracy' in Europe.[37] A month later, the national election was held and despite a low voter turnout, Tsipras and his Syriza Party won just over 35% of the vote. Combining with the Independent Greeks Party, a majority was achieved and Tsipras was returned to power.[38]

Commentary on appointment[edit]

The Adam Smith Institute, one of the leading free-market think tanks of the United Kingdom,[39][40][41][42][43] has "enthusiastically" supported Varoufakis's debt-swap plan and has asked British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne to support it. Varoufakis has proposed debt swap measures, including bonds pegged to economic growth, which would replace the existing bonds of the European bailout programme.[39]

Bloomberg said that Varoufakis was a "brilliant economist", but he had difficult interactions with other politicians and the media.[44] Galbraith, referring to Varoufakis's expertise in game theory, has said that he knows as much about this subject "as anyone on the planet", and that "[he] will be thinking more than a few steps ahead" in any interactions with the Troika.[44]


Varoufakis is the author of several books on game theory, is also a recognised speaker and often appears as analyst for national news media.[citation needed]

A Modest Proposal[edit]

In November 2010, he and Stuart Holland, a former British 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.[45]

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.[46]

Both Holland and Galbraith praised Varoufakis as an economist.[44]

Books in English[edit]

  • Europe after the Minotaur: Greece and the Future of the Global Economy. London and New York: 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. London and New York: Zed Books, 2011 (translations in German, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Czech, Finnish, French and Norwegian); second edition 2013; third edition 2015[47]
  • Modern Political Economics: Making sense of the post-2008 world. London and New York: Routledge, 2011 (with Joseph Halevi and Nicholas Theocarakis)
  • (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), ISBN 978-0415094023. 2nd revised edition 2004 (Game Theory: A critical text), ISBN 978-0415250955 (translated also in Japanese)
  • 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)

The Globalizing Wall[edit]

In 2005 and 2006, Varoufakis travelled extensively with his partner, 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.[48]

Work in progress[edit]

A book called And The Weak Suffer What They Must?: Europe's Crisis and America's Economic Future (ISBN 9781568585048) is to be released in 2016. He is working on a book with the working title Reverse Alchemy: Europe on the Road to Disintegration.[49]

Personal life[edit]

Varoufakis's second wife is installation artist Danae Stratou. He has a daughter named Xenia Varoufakis in Sydney from his first marriage to academic Margarite Poulos. Although born into an Orthodox Christian family, he is not religious and usually does not attend Church prayers. He is a motorcycle enthusiast.[50]


  1. ^ Yanis Varoufakis, "Easter wishes to all". Retrieved 01-08-2015.
  2. ^ officially Ιωάννης Γεωργίου Βαρουφάκης, Hellenic Parliament: MPs’ contact details
  3. ^ "Curriculum Vitae of Yanis Varoufakis" (PDF). UOA Economics department. 
  4. ^ "Yanis Varoufakis: The Greek-Australian finance minister in charge of saving Greece's economy". ABC News. 
  5. ^ Philip Innan and Katie Allen (26 January 2015). "The Guardian". Retrieved 27 January 2015. 
  6. ^ a b "Minister No More!". Yanis Varoufakis. Retrieved 2015-07-06. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Yanis Varoufakis: In his own words". BBC. 3 February 2015. 
  8. ^ a b c Βαρουφάκης στο iefimerida.gr: Είμαι απαισιόδοξος για την πορεία της Ελλάδας. Τα χειρότερα έρχονται. Δυστυχώς.... Efimerida (in Greek). 4 February 2013. Retrieved 13 April 2015. 
  9. ^ "Meet the new Greek Finance Minister: Our Robbie Smyth spoke to Yanis Varoufakis". An Phoblacht. 27 January 2015. Retrieved 19 February 2015. 
  10. ^ Christides, Giorgos (13 February 2015). "Profile: Yanis Varoufakis, Greek bailout foe". BBC. 
  11. ^ "Amazon.com: Yanis Varoufakis: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle". amazon.com. 
  12. ^ Varoufakis, Yanis. "IT ALL BEGAN WITH A STRANGE EMAIL". Valve Economics. Valve Software. Retrieved 18 May 2015. 
  13. ^ Yanis Varoufakis (15 February 2013). "Yanis Varoufakis' Twitter". Retrieved 14 July 2013. 
  14. ^ Yanis Varoufakis (14 June 2012). "It All Began With a Strange Email". Valve Corporation. Retrieved 14 June 2012. 
  15. ^ Daniel Nye Griffiths: The Value of Fun: Valve Software Appoints In-House Economist. In: Forbes. 15 June 2012
  16. ^ "Real lessons from virtual worlds". Financial Times. Retrieved 31 January 2015. (subscription required (help)). 
  17. ^ "WdW Review". wdwreview.org. 
  18. ^ "YANIS VAROUFAKIS". International University College Of Turin. Retrieved 21 May 2015. 
  19. ^ Reuters (2015-01-28): Profile: Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis: “Varoufakis was an adviser to former centre-left Prime Minister George Papandreou until he resigned in 2006.” OECD Observer: Yanis Varoufakis (2013-03-01): “There is no such thing as a debt crisis”: “Between 2004 and 2007 Mr Varoufakis served as economic adviser to George Papandreou, before he became Prime Minister of Greece.”
  20. ^ Helena Smith (26 January 2015). "The Guardian". Retrieved 26 January 2015. 
  21. ^ Prarthito Maity (27 January 2015), Valve Economist Yanis Varoufakis Appointed Finance Minister of Greece, International Business Times 
  22. ^ "Greece election: Anti-austerity Syriza wins election". BBC. Retrieved 22 September 2015. 
  23. ^ "Syriza Win in Greek Election Sets Up New Europe Clash". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 22 September 2015. 
  24. ^ Dalton, Matthew (18 February 2015). "Greek Minister Yanis Varoufakis’s Style Irks His Eurozone Peers". WSJ. Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  25. ^ "Eurozone chiefs strike deal to extend Greek bailout for four months". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  26. ^ Fidler, Stephen (19 March 2015). "In Greece’s Bailout Talks, Why It’s 18 Eurozone Countries Versus One". WSJ. Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  27. ^ Varoufakis, Yanis. "Of Greeks and Germans: Re-imagining our shared future". Varoufakis. Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  28. ^ Yanis Varoufakis and Joseph Stiglitz on YouTube, live stream, 9 April 2015
  29. ^ Melander, Ingrid (9 April 2015). "Greece to restart privatization program: Varoufakis". Reuters. Retrieved 13 April 2015. 
  30. ^ "Varoufakis Says he Will Quit if Greeks Vote 'Yes'". Bloomberg. 2 July 2015. 
  31. ^ Mortimer, Caroline (6 July 2015). "Greek debt crisis: Yanis Varoufakis resigns after being forced out by EU chiefs". The Independent (London). 
  32. ^ Fletcher, Nick; Farrell, Paul; Davidson, Helen. "Greek referendum: finance minister Yanis Varoufakis resigns – live". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 July 2015. 
  33. ^ "Greek PM Tsipras seeks party backing after abrupt concessions". Reuters. 10 July 2015. 
  34. ^ Yanis Varoufakis full transcript: our battle to save Greece – The full transcript of the former Greek Finance Minister's first interview since resigning, by Harry Lambert, New Statesman, 13 July, 2015
  35. ^ http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/aug/14/greek-parliament-still-thrashing-out-rescue-deal-vote
  36. ^ "Greece crisis: PM Alexis Tsipras quits and calls early polls". BBC News. Retrieved 20 August 2015. 
  37. ^ "Greece crisis: Former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis will not stand in 'sad' election next month as Syriza 'kicks out' traitors". The Independent. Retrieved 21 September 2015. 
  38. ^ http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-34307795
  39. ^ a b Guy Bentley. Adam Smith Institute calls on Osborne to back Varoufakis's Greek debt-swap plan "Adam Smith Institute calls on Osborne to back Varoufakis's Greek debt-swap plan" Check |url= scheme (help). City A.M. Greece's finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has found an enthusiastic backer for his debt restructuring plans in one of Britain's premier free-market think-tanks. 
  40. ^ Andrew Gillespie (7 February 2013). Business Economics. OUP Oxford. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-19-965799-5. The Adam Smith Institute is one of the world's leading think tanks. 
  41. ^ U. Penn. "2014 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report". The TTCSP works with leading scholars and practitioners from think tanks and universities in a variety of collaborative efforts and programs, and produces the annual Global Go To Think Tank Index that ranks the world’s leading think tanks in a variety of categories. 
  42. ^ "Public Policy Research Think Tanks 2011: Top 30 Think Tanks Worldwide (US and non-US)". U. Penn. 
  43. ^ Joseph S. Wholey; Harry P. Hatry; Kathryn E. Newcomer (8 November 2010). Handbook of Practical Program Evaluation. John Wiley & Sons. p. 353. ISBN 978-0-470-52247-9. ... of the top-ranked think tanks focus on international relations; the two chief exceptions were the Adam Smith Institute ... 
  44. ^ a b c Carol Matlack (2 February 2015). "Greece's New Finance Minister Is Brilliant. So Why Does He Make Everyone So Nervous?". Bloomberg News. 
  45. ^ Yanis Varoufakis: Euro Crisis
  46. ^ Russell Shorto: The Way Greeks Live Now. In: The New York Times. 13 February 2012
  47. ^ http://www.theguardian.com/world/live/2015/jul/06/greek-referendum-eu-leaders-call-crisis-meeting-as-bailout-rejected-live-updates#block-559a9aeee4b00bdd2770811d
  48. ^ Vital Space: Mission and Biographies
  49. ^ http://www.webcitation.org/6Zp23n0PK
  50. ^ "Profile: Yanis Varoufakis, Greek bailout foe". BBC. 17 February 2015. Retrieved 17 February 2015. 

External links[edit]


Selected interviews/reviews[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Gikas Hardouvelis
Minister of Finance
Succeeded by
Euclid Tsakalotos