Home > Greece > Professor James K. Galbraith’s statement on the Ministry of Finance Working Group convened by former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis

Professor James K. Galbraith’s statement on the Ministry of Finance Working Group convened by former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis

I spent five months from early February through early July in close association with the Greek Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis, and was part of the Working Group that did contingency planning for potential attempts to asphyxiate the Greek government, including aggressive moves to force the country out of the euro. Since a great deal of public confusion has now arisen over this effort, the following should be stated:

(1) At no time was the Working Group engaged in advocating exit or any policy choice. The job was strictly to study the operational issues that would arise if Greece were forced to issue scrip or if it were forced out of the euro.

(2) The group operated under the axiom that the government was fully committed to negotiating within the euro, and took extreme precautions not to jeopardize that commitment by allowing any hint of our work to reach the outside world. There were no leaks whatever, until the existence of the group was disclosed by the former Finance Minister himself, in response to criticism that his ministry had made no contingency plans when it was known that forces within the Eurozone were planning the forced exit of Greece.

(3) The existence of preliminary plans could not play any role in the Greek negotiating position, since their circulation (before there was a need to implement them) would have destabilized government policy.

(4) Apart from one late, inconclusive telephone conversation between MP Costas Lapavitsas and myself, we had no coordination with the Left Platform and our Working Group’s ideas had little in common with theirs.

(5) Our work ended for practical purposes in early May, with a long memorandum outlining major issues and scenaria that we  studied.

(6) My work in this area was unpaid and unofficial, based on my friendship with Yanis Varoufakis and on my respect for the cause of the Greek people.

 

  1. graccibros
    July 29, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    It is a sad commentary if you follow the professional career of James Galbraith, as I try to do, that he is more appreciated abroad for both his professional advice and the “acclaim” given his work than he is in the U.S.

    I’ve worried for a long time about the low level of public interest in political economy among US citizens. I think I’ve seen a substantial uptick among NY Times readers among those who tend to comment, and a discernible move to the left, very apparent in the outpouring upon Yanis’ resignation, but I don’t see this among the general citizenry.

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