He has been an economics professor at universities in Australia, Britain, Belgium, America and Greece. He is also a well-known economics blogger and commentator with a very pronounced social media presence. Until recently he developed in-game digital economics for US video game giant, Valve. Now he is the finance minister for Greece, one of the most dire economies in the developed world.

Meet Yanis Varoufakis.

The 53-year-old specialist in economic theory and policy, econometrics and game theory holds dual Greek-Australian citizenship after having lived and worked as a professor in Australia for 12 years. Upon returning to his homeland, Greece, in 2000 Varoufakis worked as an academic for another 12 years, co-authoring a paper titled, ‘A Modest Proposal for Resolving the Euro Crisis’. In 2013 he became an advisor for General Secretary of the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) on issues relating to the Global and European economic crisis.

Yanis Varoufakis was appointed as Greece’s new Finance Minister following the victory of the radical left-wing Syriza party in last week’s elections. Now the self-titled ‘libertarian marxist’ is able to put his grand ideas and criticism into practice.

Having studied politics at university, I am well acquainted with the theoretical nature of academic work and the large gap between textbooks and real world policy. Analysing history and criticising current political decisions is a far cry from being responsible for the implementation of new economic policies of an entire nation, that is bound up economically with an entire continent. Mr Varoufakis has been very outspoken about his economic views over recent years, and is finally given the opportunity to play a key role in putting these policies into action.

In an interview with Business Spectator in 2012, the economist stressed the detriment that abandoning the euro and returning to the drachma would cause to the Greek economy. He also noted that a top-down approach to dismantle the euro altogether could be another option. However, he believes this would precipitate a major deflationary period in Europe and cause great harm to the global economy.

Instead, the new finance minister advocates fixing the Euro via the European Central Bank rather than allowing Germany or other countries to guarantee the debts of other EU members. He supports decoupling the banking crisis from the debt crisis and the ECB centrally managing the debt of each EU country and acting as a go-between for member states and the rest of the financial world.

Varoufakis’ outspoken radical, anti-austerity beliefs have garnered him the nickname of Dr Doom. He has called the conditions imposed by the ECB and IMF as madness and is focused towards eliminating or renegotiating the terms of these debts.

The Greek economy has shrunk by 25% in recent years, which has resulted in 50% unemployment amongst young people, thousands of businesses being closed and slashed wages and pensions. Greece’s national debt stands at 175% of its GDP – the highest of any developed economy.

Many observers to Varafoukis’ instatement are predicting months of convoluted discussions likely leading to lower interest rates or an extension of Greece’s repayment schedule.

The finance minister has previously noted that a lack of political will and power to coordinate disparate elites has crippled the ECP’s ability to inject growth into the European continent. He said they were fuelling the crisis rather than addressing it. Could Yanis Varafoukis be the missing piece?

Mr Varafoukis “exposed what was wrong with greek orthodox economics, but he was a critic who had a deep understanding of what he was criticising”, Gabrielle Meagher, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Sydney political economy department noted.

Whether Varafoukis can turn from paper-writing and criticising on camera to negotiating and implementing positive economic growth in the worst developed economy in the world – only time will be able to tell.


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