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  • Adults in the Room

  • My Battle with Europe's Deep Establishment
  • By: Yanis Varoufakis
  • Narrated by: Leighton Pugh
  • Length: 20 hrs and 14 mins
  • 4.8 out of 5 stars (734 ratings)

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Adults in the Room

By: Yanis Varoufakis
Narrated by: Leighton Pugh
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Summary

In Adults in the Room, Yanis Varoufakis exposes the shocking reality of how power is wielded behind the scenes at the EU - and argues that only radical reform can save it from collapse.

Yanis Varoufakis became globally famous when was elected finance minister of Greece with a specific mandate to say no to the EU: to reject the forced loans and crushing austerity forced upon his country by the Eurozone.

The negotiations that ensued became one of the most spectacular and controversial battles in economic history. But no one actually knows what went on because Eurogroup discussions are held in secret. In this no-holds-barred account, Varoufakis reveals all: an extraordinary tale of brinkmanship and backstabbing that will shake the economic establishment to its foundations.

The future of the EU now hangs in the balance. As Varoufakis argues, the only way it can survive is if the truth is known, ushering in a new era of radical transparency and accountability in Brussels. Adults in the Room is an urgent wake-up call to renew European democracy before it is too late.

©2017 Yanis Varoufakis (P)2017 Random House Audiobooks

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The most interesting political memoir I have read

I have to admit to being an admirer of Yanis Varoufakis (fans, as well as foes, are something he professes not to court near the end of the book). I have read his other books, those being more technical in nature, and better suited to a format where it is easier to re-read sections. This was the first of his books that I have listened to on Audible and, being largely a historical account of events, with only a little 'theory', the format works well.

The story it tells is a scary one of how the powers of the troika brought both Greece and him down, by slowly and insidiously turning his own colleagues against him. There is nothing of self pity in his tale of how he remains charged with high treason in Greece; Varoufakis proudly makes a convincing case of how his analysis of the situation and push for debt restructuring and tax reform was the correct, and probably only, course of action that had any hope of rescuing Greece from perpetual debt bondage. In this we see that he was supported not just by Norman Lamont and Emmanuel Macron, but that even Wolfgang Schäuble and Christine Lagarde knew his analysis was ultimately correct.

As a reluctant remainer I dread the days ahead as the British Government tries to negotiate our Brexit with Europe's "Deep Establishment" as they are clearly the slippery and dangerous cabal that Varoufakis potrays in this excellent and important book.

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varofakis settles scores

We arrived in Athens listening to Adults In the Room - My Battle with Europe's Deep Establishment - the account by former Greek Finance Minister, of his time at the helm in 2015, after the election of the Syrizia government.

Whatever one's views of this period of European or Greek history, the book is a important window into the workings of Europe's and the world's political and financial institutions at the highest level.

Did Varoufakis really secretly record private conversations with the leaders of these institutions? The IMF's Christine LaGarde, Germany's Finance Minister and others? It seems he did, which in itself shows two things - how much of a wildcard he was as a Finance Minister; it also shows his early understanding and intuition of who he was dealing with, and that without a clear account and record of those dealings, he might very well be hung out to dry. He was, and this book is his riposte.

At times it reads like a tome of self-justification, at other times like a romantic novel, as Varoufakis indulges us with his innermost emotions and feelings, and at times poetic descriptions of the Athens night.

But yes, you also hear German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble, early in the book, plainly state that Greece elections don't matter. Later Varoufakis and himself manage to have a heart to heart, reproduced verbatim, where the German admits that Greece shouldn't stay in the euro, that Europe's structures are terribly inadequate.

Watching this all unfold, at that time, from Ireland, one could see that there was no budge from "The Institutions". One could also see that politically, "The Institutions" wanted to do everything to ensure that no other approach or model was allowed in dealing with the banking and debt crisis. Heaven forfend that other governments might follow Syrizia lead.

Varoufakis confirms all this in detail - no quarter was given - even his proposal to crackdown on Greek's tax avoiders, through a digital and algorithmic analysis of money flows from Greece cross checked with Greek Bank accounts and tax returns, these were suspiciously filleted from the final capitulation "deal."

While in Ireland, media like RTE and The Irish Times became dependent on the advertising revenue from property developers, in Greece developers went one further, and owned the media themselves! Varofakis describes how developers secured money from their friends in the banks, and then politically opposed any change which threatened their ill-gotten gains through the sempiternally unprofitable papers and media organs which they owned.

Varoufakis shows up the inadequacy of the "Troika"s financial modelling - at one point he asks to look in their computer models. He ups the VAT rate from 23 to 223% - and guess what? Such a change causes no wider economic impact - simply because the economic model is such that huge hikes in VAT and Tax cause no reduction in spending - or as he describes the economic term: 'price elasticity' is absent from the Troika models.

The book is also about relationships - the optimism and hope there at the start, the rupture, silences and personal attacks at the end. Varofakis highlights the personal costs for those involved during the episode.

The book ends with a plug for his new pan-European political movement Diem25 - Democracy In Europe Movement 2025.

Surprisingly, from his experiences with the EU, Varoufakis remains a committed Europeanist. During Brexit, he campaigned, in Britain, against leaving. His view is that if the EU doesn't reform, it will disintegrate back in to dangerous conflicting nationalisms and neo-fascism. The new movement,  initially an internet based platform, seeks to mobilise a diversity of views to democratise Europe, ultimately seeking to contest elections, and create a European Constituent Assembly which would meet to draft a new, democratic European constitution.

One a personal note, I spent a number of months in Athens in the second half of 2017. During my time there I came across very few people who had anything positive to say how about Mr Varofakis. it seems that his brinkmanship was not appreciated by people in his own country. A commonly shared view, perhaps not entirely fair, was that he was willing to tank the entire country's banking system and economy in order to win his broader economic argument.


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9 people found this helpful

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Insightful

A very insightful look into the proceedings in Greece. I have had a career in fund management, but feel that macroeconomic and econometric detail, which could be quite technical to the layman, was explained in an accessible way. Lovely stuff.

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every pro and anti European should read this book

wether your pro #Brexit or #Remain this is an important work if you are to understand the true meaning of being European

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Lessons in negotiations...

Excellent book and great insight to the workings or the IMF, EU and the ECB and shows how embedded these institutions are to their rigid ideology and practices. A must read for any British negotiator about to embark on Brexit talks with the EU! There are lessons to learnt...

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An important book for Europe

I hope everyone interested in Europe, the EU and liberal democracy read or listen to this great and highly informative work. I hope I meet Yannis one day to convey my appreciation for his insights and for having bothered to write his books so that people like me could learn about these issues.

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Political Memoir at its Finest

This memoir is as gripping as a thriller, with the protagonists engaged in a tragic confrontation with their own inability to escape the quicksand. The performance is splendid - one of the finest I've heard. It's an outstanding audiobook.

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Enjoyed. Opened my eyes to likey Brexit outcomes.

Yanis brings a common sense approach to economics on a national and EU scale that make me (a UK natual centre right voter) see the differences between government and personal economics.
The grexit scenario was worse than brexit however the people of the UK must take steps now to insulate themselves from a highly likely brexit no-deal situation.

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Excellent!!!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

This book should be read by every European Citizen .
At some point this will be considered a textbook of Modern European History.

Any additional comments?

It is an extraordinary book.

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Could have been great, instead narcissistic bile

I struggled on with this book for 14 hours, but eventually admitted defeat. The topic is interesting, and if even a fraction is true, would be good to know more about.

Unfortunately the authors narcissism is so thick it is choking, making everything he says questionable. Everyone else is wrong, he is the only person who can save the day; you get the idea. After a while it's just hard work listening to.

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