Monday, July 6, 2015

Eureka(?) Greece Likely to Name Euclid New Finance Minister

Greece's outgoing finance minister Yanis Varoufakis on Monday strongly hinted that bailout negotiator Euclid Tsakalotos would take over as finance minister, saying the two would return to face reporters together on Tuesday.

"I am leaving and I will see you tomorrow with Mr. Tsakalotos," Varoufakis, who resigned earlier on Monday, said as he left the finance ministry. Asked whether Tsakalotos would be the new finance minister, Varoufakis said: "I hope so."

Tsakalotos, is currently the Chief Economics Spokesman of the Government of Greece. He is also  a member of the Central Committee of the ruling radical left party, SYRIZA.


Ambrose Evans-Pritchard calls Tsakalotos more hardline than Varoufakis.

From the Guardian:
Described as the "brains behind Syriza's economic policy", he has authored and co-authored six books, the most recent of which seeks to debunk the causes of Greece's economic turmoil.
Published in 2012, Crucible of Resistance: Greece, the Eurozone and the World Economic Crisis, argues that far from being an economic laggard, Greece underwent two decades of neo-liberal modernisation before the onset of the financial crisis in 2008. The result, he argues, was a widening in social inequality and a gaping democratic deficit. 
In a refrain that will be familiar to many, the Marxist economist diagnoses Greece's ailments as not simply the consequence of "an economic crisis" but a "crisis of democracy" in the eurozone.

 Here's Nick Malkoutzis on Tsakalotos, when he was named chief debt negotiator:
Following a brutal Eurogroup in Riga on Friday [April 24], Varoufakis was left isolated. The personal nature of the attack against him crossed all kinds of invisible diplomatic lines. As Bloomberg reported, “eight participants broke decorum to describe what happened behind closed doors” after the meeting. One unnamed official said that the Greek minister had been branded “a time-waster, a gambler and an amateur” by his colleagues during the meeting. It’s little wonder he preferred not to spend the evening with them at an official dinner.
Varoufakis’s counterparts had been building up to this concerted attack, reducing the impasse in the talks to a personality issue. It may be the case that Varoufakis was indeed the dominant factor in the deadlock but even if he wasn’t, from the moment that Greece’s lenders had identified him as such, Tsipras had to act.
The prime minister upgraded the role of Tsakalotos, who is viewed in a more positive light than Varoufakis by many European officials, and replaced the finance minister’s pick for Greece’s representative at the Brussels Group with Giorgos Houliarakis, the head of the Council of Economic Advisers (SOE), another figure that is repected by the creditors. In doing so, Tsipras sent the signal that he is upping his efforts to reach a compromise with lenders.
However, in their enthusiasm at this reshuffle, markets missed a vital aspect, which is that the personalities involved in this process are the least of the obstacles to an agreement. It is true that apart from being more acceptable to Greece’s lenders, Tsakalotos is also a SYRIZA member (unlike Varoufakis) and is likely to have a better rapport with fellow MPs and understanding of their concerns. Varoufakis’s aloofness had started to rile some leftist lawmakers soon after the government came to power.
However, Tsakalotos now being front and centre offers no guarantee of a deal. Whether it is him delivering the bitter pill to SYRIZA MPs or Varoufakis, makes little difference; they are not going to swallow it easily either way. And this is where the problem really lies. This is about the substance of the agreement between Greece and its lenders.
The blurb for Crucible of Resistance:
Syriza’s victory in the 2015 Greek general election has shaken the foundations of the Western political establishment and has given new hope to the millions suffering the austerity measures imposed by the European Troika. Many people are discussing how this has happened and what it is about Greece that has created such a centre of radicalism?
Written by Deputy Finance Minister and chief economics spokesman for Syriza Euclid Tsakalotos and economist Christos Laskos, Crucible of Resistance argues that Greece’s exceptionalism is largely a myth. The blame game that has been played by the EU powers is an ideological tool used to shift attention from the realities of both European and global capitalist economic order.
By alienating an entire nation of people, the Troika has revealed the internal contradictions of the modern neoliberal establishment, as well as the inadequacies of the earlier social-democratic Keynesian regime. Tsakalotos and Laskos suggest that there is very little that differentiates Greece from other countries struggling under austerity, and that parties such as Syriza could usher in a new, democratic and socialist era across the continent.

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