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The Global Minotaur: America, The True Origins of the Financial Crisis and the Future of the World Economy (Economic Controversies)

4.8 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 858-2954444441
ISBN-10: 1780320140
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Editorial Reviews


"In the most comprehensive guide to the contemporary economic crisis yet written, Yanis Varoufakis traces out the path from post-war US economic supremacy to the current predicament. This book’s provocative thesis, written in lively and impassioned prose, is that which neither the US nor the EU nor any other nation can now restore robust global growth. Whether you agree or disagree, this book’s lively and impassioned prose will engage you both heart and mind, and hold you in thrall to the last word. The Global Minotaur is a masterwork that registers for all time the challenge of our time." -- Gary Dymski, University of California, Riverside
“One of the best, brightest and most innovative economists on the planet.” – Steve Keen, author of Debunking Economics and Debunking Economics Revised and Expanded Edition (Zed Books, Oct. 2011)
“Yanis Varoufakis is a rare economist: skilled at explaining ideas, happy to join in public debates and able to put his discipline in a broader context. You may not agree with what he says, but you'll enjoy the way he says it.” -- Aditya Chakrabortty, Economics writer for The Guardian

About the Author

Yanis Varoufakis is Professor of Economic Theory and Director of the Department of Political Economy within the Faculty of Economic Sciences of the University of Athens.
For more information on Yanis Varoufakis, visit his blog: http://yanisvaroufakis.eu/ and follow him on twitter: @yanisvaroufakis

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Product Details

  • Series: Economic Controversies
  • Paperback: 170 pages
  • Publisher: Zed Books (September 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780320140
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780320144
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,459,251 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. A. Krul on January 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
Yanis Varoufakis, Professor of Economic Theory at the National and Capodistrian University of Athens, is mainly known for his work (with Shaun Hargreaves-Heap) on critical analysis of game theory. He is however also one of the foremost currently active left-Keynesian economists. In this book, "The Global Minotaur", he sets out his analysis of the origins and nature of the current economic depression from this perspective. The book is well-written and should be generally accessible to the interested layman, but it is also rather disjointed; it has at times insufficient theoretical depth to clearly separate causes, and at the same time insufficient structuring to make it wholly work as a popular text. That said, it is highly informative, clear in the purely descriptive aspects of its content, and should make the Keynesian interpretation of the current crisis and global trade relations clear to all involved.

The first two chapters, the introduction and "Laboratories of the Future", are the most rambling and unclear, and therefore may put off readers unfairly. In it, Varoufakis discusses and then dismisses various popular explanations for the crisis and explains the Keynesian theory of capital and of crisis in general terms, but I doubt whether anyone will be much the wiser for it. The later chapters, however, are excellent. Varoufakis systematically traces the two world-systems led by the United States that have existed since WWII. First this is the gold standard convertibility system of Bretton Woods, in which the United States financed its vassals in Europe and east Asia in order to provide itself with a market for its own manufactures, in exchange for which it could rely on their political loyalty in the struggle against its rival, the Soviet Union.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is the most expansive explanation for the state of the global economy I've encountered, and I've been looking for a while. I've appreciated some of the writing Paul Krugman and Tyler Cowen about the origins and underlying forces of the global economy, but The Global Minotaur goes deeper and wider, and with a conviction that is missing from almost all other economic writers.

The book's two major attributes are: (1) its fluidity with classic myths and pop culture, weaving them to create and sustain metaphors that engage the reader and help them visualize concepts that would otherwise keep the reader at arm's length; (2) its willingness to wound the sacred cows of the accepted (read: Alan Greenspan's) wisdom relating to laws and rules of the global economy. Varoufakis isn't a contrarian for it's own sake, but rather does the reader a great service by simply putting those laws and rules to the simple tests of logic and experience.

The book goes back and retells the economic history of the last 90 years or so, nicely summarizing the concerns of the major world players during the Great Depression and through the postwar period of the Marshall Plan and the gold standard. He writes of the Bretton Woods global economic regime as a particular paradigm called the Global Plan, one in which the US played a central but mostly magnanimous role in the free world's economy. That paradigm changes in 1971, when Nixon abandons the gold standard, and the pillars of the Global Plan come down, to be replaced by a new economic paradigm that depends upon the US importing tons of goods from the rest of the world, and issuing tons of its own debt to pay for those goods, which the world gobbles up because there's no currency like the US dollar, stability wise.
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Format: Paperback
The reader comments on this book here are very apt. This book provides the rest of the story about the hegemonic role of America in the world economy since WWII that has been only hinted at by conventional economic writers in the past twenty years. The book provides a case study of the historical analysis recommended by Varoufakis and his co-authors in their magisterial super-textbook, Modern Political Economics (MPE). The Global Minotaur is the popular version of MPE, with practical application.

Many recent authors have attempted to make sense of the post 2008 world. Martin Wolf presented his charts and graphs for years in the pages of the Financial Times showing how far global trade imbalances had gone out of whack and remarking on the strange appearance of the United States as the "spender of last resort". Wolf's analysis has been put between covers in his book Fixing Global Finance. But Wolf's quote from Valery d'Estaing about the "exorbitant privilege" enjoyed by the United States in the economic world that it created after Bretton Woods where it could borrow cheaply and apparently without limit in its own currency doesn't capture the situation so brilliantly as the image of The Global Minotaur, the rapacious beast devouring the tribute to its military might. Robert Skidelsky covers much the same ground in his recent book, Keynes, The Return of the Master, but from the single perspective that one would expect from Keynes' biographer. Reinhardt and Rogoff treated us to the historical background of the 2008 financial meltdown in their book, This Time is Different. Their book is crucial in laying bare the historical familiarity of today's sovereign debt crises.
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