Simon Tormey reviews ‘Adults in the Room: My battle with Europe’s deep establishment’ by Yanis Varoufakis

The blurb on the back of the book describes Varoufakis as ‘the most interesting man in the world’. It is a wonderful epithet and might even be true considering the interest that Varoufakis excites in the press and media. On another reading, he is also the luckiest man in the world given the extraordinary nature of his leap from talented if unheralded academic economist to Greek finance minister to international speaker and best-selling author. This is an important as well as an entertaining work: part diary, part critique of European political economy, and part thriller featuring a cast of villains of whom Ian Fleming would be proud. It is a heady concoction and a gripping read.

Adults in the Room focuses on Varoufakis’s brief tenure as Greek finance minister in 2015, a matter of weeks marked by extreme turbulence on global markets as the international community digested the possibility of ‘Grexit’ or a Greek exit from the EU. Whilst the details of who owed what to whom on what basis can seem bewildering at times, the gist of the issue that confronted Varoufakis and his comrades in Syriza on being elected was clear enough. Greece, quite simply, was broke. The money it had borrowed on the international markets was being used to pay back interest on its loans with the further requirement to flog off saleable assets to make the payments.

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Published in August 2017, no. 393

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