The Global Minotaur: The Crash of 2008 and the Euro-Zone Crisis in Historical Perspective. Columbia University, Nov. 2011



On 9th November 2011, Mark Mazower (Professor of History at Columbia University) kindly organised an event, at the University of Columbia, to launch my recent book (The Global Minotaur: America, the true causes of the world economy and the future of the world economy). Justin Fox (author of The Myth of the Rational Market) offered commentary.


  • Enjoy it Yani! As always you are at the top of your game.

    You have been able to define the economic problem and the required solution for quite sometime.

    Yet, as you know the nature of the beast is 90% political and 10% intellectual.

    As long as we continue to exhaust ourselves in variations of a well defined intellectual solution and we keep the political Minotaur alive, we have no conceivable chance of obtaining moral relief.

    Our enemy is defective politics.

    P.S. The ring shown in my avatar – by some coincidence – is from the Minoan era.

    • Dean,

      The problem is not only political or intellectual. The problem is also a mathematical problem.
      If we go against simple arithmetic is like trying to ignore gravity.

  • Thank you so much for your clearness bringing thoughts, creating deep insight, a kind of an Aha! effect…
    Beautiful to hear about the Minoan period on Crete, the Minotaur. Lately I have been reading about it. Maybe there has been such a kind of a real similar Minotaur (as a metaphor) effect on the Minoan civilization, and reason for its disappearing. Nobody exactly knows the real reason/cause, all are guessing.

    Anyhow: your insights take away the negative power of the Minotaur of today, the power USA has/had, and what is killing every progress on this planet. Reason for disbalance in so many countries and peoples. Reason for the disbalance between richness and poverty. I hope my dream, and from so many many others, finally will come true.

    Following you up and spreading the news, because I believe in what you say. You are an eye-opener.

  • Yanis, just one remark on one of your statements, which I think has to be addressed more thoroughly: “the Germans did not have to worry as American, French and Italian manufacturers, among others, for sources of demand for their products”. To my mind this specific question has to be addressed in a more detailed fashion and make it fit with the more general theory you are proposing. Relative competitive advantage issues looked upon from a Behavioural Economics perspective may constitute an important element in understanding global imbalances. Behavioural considerations related to human factor elements are so much underestimated in Economics, and that perhaps is very understandable as they are not easily quantifiable, but to my mind again that should be a big challenge worth tackling in complementing your approach.

    P.S. I bought your book here in Amsterdam and felt really proud to have being your fellow student at those old Essex University days! I felt really sad that for work reasons I was not able to attend your presentation here, but I will try to make it up the next time around.

  • Jason:

    True. Dysfunction, in general, is a breeding ground for many diseases (social, political, ethical, mathematical and you name it).

  • Hi Yanis,

    Many thanks again and bravo! I have some questions of my own…

    (1) The tributes (investments in financial assets) leave the European and Asia companies which have benefited from the consumption and investment demand in America and seeking for high yields / political security and low inflation head back to America, to Wall street. Which allows for the resumption of the cycle as these investments increase the wealth of Americans and their propensity to consume/invest in turn.

    The issue of securitization (minting) is unclear how it fits into this process….

    Securitizers (as far as I understand) are agents in investment banking divisions who approach companies and banks with assets, such as any type of loans and securities which yield a future stream of income and propose to them to take it off their balance sheet re-aggregate it and re-parcel it and sell it off (along with a chunk of that future income steam) for money now. So my question is how do securitizers feature in (1)? What is the process?

    Also if the ‘demise’ of securitization (indeed has the securization market stop functinoing now?) was the struck of death for the minautor , then is it the right conclusion to draw that securitization was from the start of this phase (when America started to have a trade deficit and become recycling the surpluses of other countries) a structural ingredient of this recycling mechanism (if not why was its demise so important)? If so, was it part of the American plan of hegemony rather than the interjection of bankers to make a little something on the side?

    As you see, I am a bit confused about this issues and any help you can offer would be much appreciated.

    Best wishes!!

  • Thank you for a convincing analysis authoritatively delivered. Unfortunalely, sadly having an excellent analysis of the problem and being well informed is small consolation to being mere spectators to the unfolding drama.

  • Great performance – but why is Gold valuable ?

    All money is a idea – I agree , but do you have it because your buddys produce it for you or do you earn or indeed take it.
    Its Final Settlement Yanis – thats all it is.
    The slotion to the inter “sovergin” euro crisis is Gold priced at the Euro M1
    You want to destroy the nation state by having a pseudo central bank / treasury. that has Caligula like misallocations of capital.
    Give the bloody Germans final payment but do not disrupt the more local money supply – its a more organic solution.

  • Yanis great talk and very informative. I have enjoyed reading your posts and watching your videos. Very disappointed that I missed your talk when you were in Australia earlier this year. Do you plan on visiting Sydney soon?

  • Congratulations to Varoufaki and to the other participants. Important and interesting things have been heard at the event thus it may be useful for those that don’t speak english to have the capability of using subtitles. I want to note the Mr. Fox’s “difficulty” to accept let say the hypothesis that wants the Global Minotaur be planned.

  • Excellent Q&A professor.

    Is your new book available for sale in Greece yet?

    I am sure it will be as an enjoyable read as you Game Theory book.

  • Well, i enjoyed it very much. “A nobel for the one that proves cancer is impossible…”. 🙂

    A “religion with equations”? Well, this sounds like every other science to me but nevertheless this one was also good.

    One would only disagree on the issue of growth. If i understand well, for the economists (mainstream at least) it is the ultra drug for every disease. Well, in the real world this axiom is irrelevant too. Nature and evolution unintentionally but very brutally punish extreme growth. This very basic lesson does not seem to have sunk in yet.

  • I really enjoyed your speech Mr. Varoufakis. I have been reading your articles for the last months and I can say that I am a big fan of you. Concerning your speech, I would like to answer me (if that’s possible) briefly the question that the women in the last minutes asked about “where is this money lost, where has it gine”? I got what you said that money is a belief, but it didn’t quite cover me. Yes, it is a manmade element but something ‘s lost here. No offense.
    To my point of view the answer lies to the word “credit”, exactly what you said about “bringing money from the future”, in other words, creating money that does not exist.This money that she reffered to, never existed. What do you think about that perspective?
    Forgive me for any mistakes but I’m still an undergraduate. Keep up good work and making us, greeks, proud.

    • I meant “I would like you to answer me” and instead of
      “gine” I meant “gone”, sorry for the spelling it’s late here in Greece..

  • GM, not to be mistaken for general Motors but Global Minotaur, I am re-reading it, haphazardly, admireringly, flabberghasted for its clarity and compactness. It seems flawless for the truth always is. Another question to you, Yanis, is how do people, how do economists get a hold on facts such as the figure mentioned in GM that around 3 to 5 billion dollars per working day entered Wall Street to either change in stocks or in T-bills since the arrival of the Hungry Beast.

    sincerely yours, WK