Who is Greece’s Finance Minister Varoufakis?

Yanis Varoufakis, 53-year-old Greek-Australian economist and author, has been appointed Finance Minister of the newly-elected government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. A member of the Greek parliament, representing the leftist party Syriza, Varoufakis has graduated in mathematics and statistics and received his economics doctorate in 1987 at the University of Essex. Most recently, he has been teaching at the Austin-based University of Texas and so far has written 9 books in English. His next book titled Reverse Alchemy: Europe on the Road to Disintegration sums up his vision of the economic relations between post-2008 Greece in perpetual crisis mode and the European Union.

A former economic advisor to socialist Georgios Papandreou, Varoufakis has become increasingly critical about capitalism and voiced his belief Greece can force Europe to change. About the massive Quantitative Easing (QE) to be started by the ECB in March 2015, Varoufakis wrote that “doing something is not always better than doing nothing” and called the ECB “to come up with an asset-purchase program that is both effective and an enemy of the euro zone’s ongoing fragmentation.”

In November 2014, the now Finance Minister had outlined a plan for the ECB to overcome its “operational constraint” and “macroprudential concerns regarding QE.” Varoufakis stressed a QE by the ECB should mostly purchase “solid Eurobonds” like the ones issued by the EIB/EIF on behalf of all EU states. This way, the ECB could “help shift idle savings (that currently depress yields on all investments) into productive activities,” something like a “European New Deal.” Often depicted as a leftist “extremist” Varoufakis tried to reassure both the EU and Greece’s partners like Germany, saying “Greece will neither want to leave the euro nor threaten to do.”