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He asked after Galbraith’s children, then noted that, a few hours earlier, a member of Germany’s parliament had visited his apartment, confessing, “I don’t believe in what we’re doing to you.” The legislator was a Christian Democrat—the party led by Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, who had it in her power to ease Greece’s crisis. A survey was showing “no” with a lead.“Don’t underestimate your countrymen—the most utterly fearless group of people,” Galbraith said. Galbraith raised his glass and, freighting an old shared joke with new emotion, quoted Che Guevara: “Greece’s Ministry of Finance occupies a concrete-and-glass mid-rise building overlooking Syntagma Square.
On departing, the legislator said, “I know you’re an atheist, but I’m going to pray for you.”Varoufakis made a call. Although a “no” victory would complicate Varoufakis’s immediate political future, he allowed himself to marvel at the Greek electorate’s willingness to accept immediate economic hardship. Outside the entrance is a protest encampment set up by former ministry cleaners who were laid off two years ago.
Aristides Baltas, a philosopher of science who is currently serving as the minister of education, told me that time had become “dense.”At the end of the previous week, negotiations between Greece and its troika creditors had stalled, and Tsipras called the referendum. F., joining three other countries in arrears: Somalia, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. “I personally owe €142.6 billion,” Varoufakis said.
On June 28th, the European Central Bank declined to increase the level of day-to-day credit available, under a program called Emergency Liquidity Assistance, to Greece’s ailing private banks; they were almost out of cash, after months of a slow-motion bank run. Varoufakis set in motion what he called “a tragic mechanism” to restrict withdrawals. A shrunken economy shrunk further, although it was still possible to make unlimited electronic transfers within Greece. Three days later, Klaus Regling, the head of the European Stability Mechanism, which was managing the debt that Greece owed to the countries of the E. payment, the European Financial Stability Facility had the option of asking for immediate repayment of E. “It’s my name on the contract.” He recalled that his response, delivered with war-weary humor, and some contempt, was a two-word quotation of the King of Sparta: “ or “Come and get it.” On the night of July 3rd, Varoufakis was mobbed as he passed through a crowd of tens of thousands of Greeks, to a final rally for the “no” cause.
A “yes” vote, Varoufakis declared, was “inevitable.”He was with his wife, Danae Stratou, an artist whose work mainly involves installations and photography, and his friend James Galbraith, an American economist who is a professor at the University of Texas.
“I said that we are insolvent, and we have to embrace our insolvency,” he recalled recently.”In the fall of 2009, George Papandreou, the leader of , the traditional party of the center-left, became Prime Minister.For years, the state had borrowed recklessly from reckless banks in Greece, Germany, and France.Papandreou’s government announced that the previous administration had published a wildly inaccurate estimate of that year’s likely deficit.
Instead of six to eight per cent of gross domestic product, an alarming enough figure, the deficit would be 12.5 per cent.
(The next night, a Monday, he told Stratou, on returning from work, “Honey, I shut the banks.”) Greeks could now withdraw from A. Determined to empty bank accounts, for fear that deposits would be devalued or lost, Greeks paid their bills: Varoufakis spoke of “huge” sums flowing into the tax office. U., e-mailed Varoufakis to remind him that, because of the missed I. Walking behind him, I saw a man in his seventies kiss Varoufakis’s shoulder.