Interviewed by Doug Henwood on my new position as Economist-In-Residence at Valve Software

A discussion with Doug Henwood on why I accepted the position of Economist-In-Residence at Valve Software.  Jump to 33’40” to hear my take on the company’s anarchosyndicalist management structure and the scope for original economic research it provides. (Please forgive the poor sound quality – courtesy of a low quality skype line). See also this blog post for more information/opinion.


  • Merkel breaks German law on ESM rescue:

    Here is the wording of Amendment 2 to the finance law or Finanzierungsgesetz on the 26th June, the day before the Brussels summit, sent to me by a very well-informed German reader.

    Finanzhilfen zur Rekapitalisierung von Finanzinstituten einer Vertragspartei schlieren Finanzhilfen an eine Einrichtung zur Stabilisierung des Finanzsektors MIT ein, wenn die sektorspezifische Konditionalität gewährleistet ist, keine direkten Bankrisiken übernommen werden und die Rückzahlung durch eine Garantie der Vertragspartei gesichert ist.

    It states that the ESM may not be used to recapitalise banks directly. Any such loans must guaranteed by the signatory to the treaty, ie the sovereign state, piling up further public debt.

    • Pedro

      Well ,well. No permission by her bosses the banksters.
      And she will hurt the Germans more too by not making her mind once and for all whatever that may be.

    • Correction

      It is better that Merkel is in a tough spot despite her two faced act.
      Between her own country and the banksters whom she too serves.

      Let the system blow up. If the banksters are not illiminated then no European Idea can survive. Not because it is wrong but because they control everything and the people are too freaking stupid to understand.

      They rather defamate a whole nation.
      Eventually everybody will understand. Will the Germans be the last?

      A warning.
      Noone hates the Germans for looking after their interests.
      But everybody will if you understand and you keep supporting the banksters through your government and accuse others for it.

      Tick-tock ,big-bang

  • Hi Yanis

    Seems like a wonderful effort.

    But please let me point out something which I trust you have already in mind but I think is worth-mentioning it here.

    I feel that there are some differences in how people behave when there are on-line, playing a game with all others who go out in the market trying to satisfy their basic needs.

    Following Epicurus’ or Maslow’s classification of needs for example, those transactions do not really satisfy basic needs, rather than a demand for a controversial entertainment as it also entails health issues contrary to our sense of ”self-preservation”, and ”well-being” clashing with Maslow’s understanding of what safety means and Epicurus notion of ”ataraxia”. Well, of course all these notions lie much more on our subjective judgement but an objective view is not always worthless, but this is more a discussion on ontology and metaphysics which albeit applicable here, is a never-ending story…

    So, do these people behave in the same manner regarding their ‘‘VALVE’’ and ‘‘non – VALVE’’ transactions? Of course, market is equally addictive both when found on-line or not and the brain stimulus for excessive transaction do not differ in a great degree, I guess. What I am saying is that this is a market of endless materialistic needs where needs will always be incrementaly created and the sense of satisfaction could be easily distorted into a sense of constant dissatisfaction. And this is not far away from the ‘‘real’’ market to be honest, where creation of needs, imposed subconsciously by external forces rather than ‘‘naturally’’ or ‘‘consciously’’ embodied in any human being, is absolutely necessary for the existence and reinforcement of this loop. And you know far better than me, how this creates bubbles…

    Regulation in the VALVE economy will not always be desirable by the relative e-community, but this is the most challenging I guess…

    Wish you all the best to your new endeavour and I would be extremely interesting getting more insights from you on VALVE’s organisation structure by this or VALVE’S website i.e an illustration of an extemporary organisational chart, which could spark a discussion on how a post-industrial organisational structure like that, merely based on intangible assets and products, could be applied in any sector or in country,


  • Anarchosyndicalist.

    Hehe. Loved it. Just loved it.
    A structure that makes everyone truly evolve to participate responsibly.
    And more natural.

    As for being scalable ,when the limit is reached ,instead of the people worrying and fearing the destruction of the previous structure or deciding to adopt another structure to have control of a bigger number of people ,they should allow for the transformation of parts of the structure as it happens naturally. So possibly there won’t be one 400 people group but 2 or 3 with the same basic characteristics but different superficial functions.

    A multi group organism. City-states with broader directives? Could it be? Will we return to the most natural basics but with advanced understanding and functions? Anarchodemocracy as i have said and been ridiculed by some in the past or Personocracy if you will?

    I hope your work at Valve ,will prove to more and more people and especially the new generations ,how much needed market regulation is through cooperation and healthy “competition”.

    Is it possible that the change will occur once more because of the Internet and now from the realm of games ,of fantasy worlds ,of matrixes that show us the hidden worlds of our own reality?

    I guess that remains to be seen ,but if we do not destroy ourselves in the process ,i am quite optimistic about it.

    And to all that think Greece is just a country or a state with economic problems know that the above is real Greece.
    No nationalities ,no “bailouts” ,no “bubbles” ,only the effort for higher culture wherever that takes place ,whatever way and by whomever.

  • ‘I Don’t Have to Prove Anything to Anybody’

    It may come as a pleasant surprise, then, to discover that Rastani’s views on the colossal bonuses awarded to top bankers reflect those held by the general public. “These guys are the reason we got into a recession,” he explains. “We saved them, and they profited from it. The only reason they even exist is because of us, so for them to think that they deserve a bonus and a reward for what they do is quite rich, in my opinion. There are soldiers out there putting their lives on the line every single day, but they’re not getting a bonus. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that giving a bonus to a banker is completely ignorant and wrong.”

    “A Spanish television channel called me, saying: ‘Hey, did you know you’ve pissed off the Finance Minister of Spain because you said that Goldman Sachs rules the world?’ The funny thing is, about a month after I said all this, suddenly we heard that Mario Monti, an international adviser for Goldman Sachs, had become Prime Minister of Italy, and another guy from Goldman Sachs (Lucas Papdemos) became the head of Greece…in my opinion, pretty much everything I said has been vindicated. I don’t feel like I have to prove anything to anybody. I have a lot of supporters out there.”

  • sounds really interesting as a new experience.Wish you the best professor.

  • If you read the comments on the other blog of Yannis (at Valve) you will understand why gamers are by far more serious and intelligent than people that believe that they understand economy laws and can solve the problems of Europe (politicians, bankers, journalists etc.). The sad think is that the lifes of real people are influenced by those.

  • Are you familiar with the Eve Intergalactic Bank or the virtual economy of “Second Life”? The Corrupted Blood Plague of World of Warcraft (#6) has been used to model epidemics.

    This is a funny link:

    #1.The Ultimate Investment Scam (EVE)

    Player “Cally” won at EVE Online despite it being a massively multiplayer game with no victory condition. Other players earn ISK (game currency) by mining, completing quests or killing each other. Cally, on the other hand, simply asked for it. And it worked, and there was nothing they could do about it. Because while the other losers went into the economy as honest workers, or corporations, he realized he could go in as a bank.

    He spent months running the “EVE Intergalactic Bank (EIB).” This offered loans for start-up EVE corporations and miners who wanted to buy tools, with interest rates and repayment plans and yes, we’re still talking about a game people apparently play for fun.

    Cally certainly had fun: He fulfilled the secret fantasy of every bank manager in history, when one day, he walked in and just took all the money. All the money was 790 billion ISK, about $170,000 in real dollars, which he used to become the greatest video game villain of all time. He spent a huge chunk of the money to buy a ridiculously powerful warship, another chunk posting a huge bounty on his own head, then sailed off into space just daring people to kill him.

    Something like this — the biggest middle finger in history.
    The ultimate dickery? He posted a 15-minute video bragging about how he got away with it, mocking his loyal employees at EIB, enemies who failed to stop him and the suckers who basically paid for a second job — essentially paying for the right to have their money stolen. Understand: Cally is now officially smarter than every Bond villain put together, because he found a way to give an expository monologue without getting killed.

  • The Art of Spinning:

    •Sell people hope. My cousin ‘Crazy Eddie’ Antar taught me that “people live on hope” and their hopes and dreams must be fed through our spin and lies. In any situation, if possible, accentuate the positive.

    •Make excuses as long as you can. Try to have your excuses based on at least one truthful fact even if the fact is unrelated to your actions and argument.

    •When you cannot dispute the underlying facts, accept them as true but rationalize your actions. You are allowed to make mistakes as long as you have no wrongful intent. Being stupid is not a crime.

    •Always say in words you “take responsibility” but try to indirectly shift the blame on other people and factors. You need to portray yourself as a “stand up” guy or gal.

    •When you cannot defend your actions or arguments attack the messenger to detract attention from your questionable actions.

    •Always show your kindness by doing people favors. You will require the gratitude of such people to come to your aid and defend you.

    •Build up your stature, integrity, and credibility by publicizing the good deeds you have done in areas unrelated to the subject of scrutiny.

    •Build a strong base of support. Try to have surrogates and the beneficiaries of your largess stand up for you and defend you.

    •If you can, appear to take the “high road” and have your surrogates do the “dirty work” for you. After all, you cannot control the actions of your zealots.

    •When you can no longer spin, shut up. For example, offer no guidance to investors or resign for “personal reasons.” Your surrogates and so-called friends can still speak on your behalf and defend you.

    •If you are under investigation always say you will “cooperate.” However, use all means necessary legal or otherwise to stifle the investigators. Remember that “people live on hope” and their inclination is to believe you.

    •When called to testify under oath (if you do not exercise your 5th amendment privilege against self-incrimination) have selective memory about your questionable actions. It is harder to be charged with perjury if you cannot remember what you have done rather than testify and lie about it.

    •However, before you testify have other friendly witnesses testify before you to defend you. You need to “lock in” their stories first (before they change their minds) so your testimony does not conflict with their testimony and your story will appear to be more truthful.

    •Try not to have your actions at least appear to rise to the level of criminal conduct or a litigable action. Being stupid or being unethical is not always a crime or a tortious action.

    •One last rule, to be a most effective spinner always keep your friends close and your enemies closer. The kindness you show your enemies will reduce their propensity to be skeptical of you.

    If you see some of the above similarities in people who are in authority such as executives, politicians, and others, you are forewarned to watch out. Before a person can be a white collar criminal, they must be deceitful and be able to follow most of the above rules of spinning.

    Written by,

    Sam E. Antar (former Crazy Eddie CFO and convicted felon)

    • Not really. It was the interest rate manipulation that the Euro cause that got the PIIGS into trouble!

    • I see that No EU has a poor sense of irony! Well done, Demetri: you revealed that at least 🙂

  • Wow! Imagine greek authorities operate like Valve! With desks on wheels, creating work groups as needs emerge!!!
    OMG this is stuff for hilarious comedy!

  • To the president of German Industry association who said that one country cannot be allowed to cripple the economic potential of the currency association. Ser you are right, the Germany crippled Greece, Portugal, Italy, Spain, France etc. Is any country left that the Germans did not poison the wells except the former soviet satellites that Germany incorporated as German satellites?

  • Yanis, a question. What do all these demented anti German rants in the comments have to do with the topic, which is “[…] on my new position as Economist-In-Residence at Valve Software”?