“And the Weak Suffer What They Must?”

I always slightly disliked Yanis Varoufakis. Strike that, actually I always thought he’s a bit of a clown. Motorbike-riding, leather-jacket-clad, attention-seeking, populist, arrogant clown. Worst of all, he was part of that annoying movement of European politicians that rejected the narrative I believed in, namely that:

  1. One must always pay ones debts.1
  2. EU and its institutions always know what they’re doing.
  3. Countries must be extremely careful with public spending and apply strict austerity measures when facing economic difficulties.2

Varoufakis, an outspoken critic of European Union and its institutions, and a prime minister in a populist government was in stark opposition to that narrative, and thus to everything I knew about public-sector economics (gives you an idea of how deep my knowledge was). I really hated the man, and felt sorry for the Greek people that they had a politician like this, in as critical a function as their finance minister, in the midst of such an enormous crisis.
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“Debt”

Debt David Graeber’s Debt is one of the best books I have read in my life.

It is a thorough historical and anthropological investigation into the nature of money and, nomen omen, debt. Across about 400 pages Graeber analyzes all aspects of these: moral, economical and philosophical. He lays out a fresh and somewhat bold view that challenges classical economic theories, namely that debt has been the true essence of human economies for at least 5000 years now, and provides lots of compelling evidence to support this claim. His original analysis is very thought-provoking, and makes the reader wonder about the very foundations of our society, global economy, and certain aspects of human nature (like greed and love).

To a reader unfamiliar with economics and anthropology (such as myself), Graeber’s book is also an eye-opener when it comes to explaining how the world works, and even more, how it has been working for the last couple of thousands of years. The author is a true erudite in how he manages to show numerous connections between religion, economy, history and human nature. And through last chapters, where he relates his historical presentation to present day and the financial crisis of 2007–2008, it is also a bit scary to read (again, to a poorly educated person such as myself) about how global economy ‘works’.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in economics and history of money and markets, but also to those who’d like to read about the history of the world from a different perspective.