The BBC Dismisses a Real Greek Economist as a Sexy “Ideologue”

By William K. Black
Bloomington, MN: Valentine’s Day 2015

In its web version, the BBC “News” has you click on a tease titled “Yanis Varoufakis, charismatic ideologue” to access a story dated February 13, 2015 entitled “Profile: Yanis Varoufakis, Greek bailout foe.” Neither the tease nor the title make any sense. Varoufakis is the Greek finance minister. Except, of course, we’re reading this in the BBC, so the description actually reads “Greece’s left-wing Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis.” Funny, the BBC never describes the head of the ECB as “the ultra-right-wing” economist Mario Draghi or Jeroen Dijsselloem, the Dutch Finance Minister and troika hit man as the “ultra-ultra-right-wing” non-economist.

The BBC “profile” is not unremittingly hostile to Varoufakis – it simply refuses to take him seriously. Varoufakis is a highly competent academic economist. His policy views have proven correct, as even the BBC (back-handedly) concedes by calling him Greece’s “Cassandra.” So why does the BBC treat Varoufakis as a sexy leftist and Dijsselboem as the respected spokesperson for the troika even though Dijsselboem is a fanatic ideologue who has caused massive human misery because of the intersection of his inflexible ideology and economic incompetence?

Varoufakis’ views on the self-destructive nature of austerity as a response to the Great Recession are mainstream economic views. He certainly is a leftist, but his policy views arise from different ideological traditions most people would find antagonistic. That makes him a non-ideologue as the term is defined. The troika, by contrast, is led entirely by ideologues. The primary difference is that they are exceptionally bad economists and exceptionally indifferent to the human misery they inflict on the workers of the periphery that they despise and ridicule. The BBC, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal will never write a “profile” of the troika’s leadership that makes any of these points. The BBC profile is another example of what I call “revealed biases.” “Journalists” and media organs routinely reveal and betray their biases – biases that they hotly deny but rarely escape.

6 responses to “The BBC Dismisses a Real Greek Economist as a Sexy “Ideologue”

  1. Thank you very much.

    Bank of America had no trouble getting a back stop for their derivatives, “Bank Of America Dumps $75 Trillion In Derivatives On U.S. Taxpayers With Federal Approval.”
    To put $75 trillion in perspective, US GDP in 2012 was around $16.5 trillion. We blew a lot more than the $6 trillion they’re claiming in Iraq and Afghanistan. Social Security’s Trust Fund is around $2.3 trillion. Bank of America is just one Wall Street bank. They all have derivative exposure. I’ve seen estimates of $700 trillion, but I don’t think anyone knows.

    Should Bank of America buy Greece?

  2. Funny, isn’t it? BBC and other major media seemed to be think Yanis physical looks, personal attire, personal life are important enough to spend several paragraphs on instead of the policies that he has proposed to end lack of growth in Euro zone or very interesting book that he wrote about global economy from WW II to pre-recession crisis period. They seem to want to paint Syriza party and Mr. Varoufakis as left wing kooks but actually they seem to be the only sane people in Europe.

    Present leaders in Europe want you to believe that their success could be ruined if Greece doesn’t continue with present policies. The success that they talk about is …. “Over the whole year 2014, GDP rose by 0.9 percent in the euro area and by 1.4 percent in the EU28” a success.

  3. Nichol Brummer

    Being dutch, I have to admit the case of Dijsselbloem may be even worse than the description given here. The dutch monetary policy has a long tradition of slavishly following Germany, which made sense for a small country next to a large one.

    This is one reason that Dijsselbloem was supported for Eurogroup president by Merkel, as he is expected to act like a proxy-german. And unfortunately, he is taking that role very seriously, without even trying to understand what is going on, why these Greeks are so upset, and why other Southern European countries also risk political overthrow by parties that had enough of it.

    Dijsselbloem is whistling past the graveyard. He is worse than ultra-right-wing. He is a technocrat enforcer to whom loyalty is more important than facts and understanding. He is not functioning as a independent connector, like a chairman should do, but as a scheming apparatchik, trying to please his boss, helping to repress her opponents.

    I surely hope my impression is wrong, or that he can still change. Dijsselbloem is member of the dutch labour party, who are in coalition with the rightwing liberals. As labour party minister of finance he needs to fight the appearances of not being a “very serious person”.

  4. Cornelius Gelpke

    “I have nothing to offer, but blood, toil, teers” are the words of another man, that most people would have found ‘antagonistic’ then. And if they were to utter their comments about him, ‘beamed back’ in time to the year 1940, the leading newspapers of today would find little if anything to say in favour for Winston Churchill.

    It is not by chance, that Yanis Varoufakis or anybody else given the mandate to put an end to the ongoing desaster in Europe, eventually will find himself saying something of that kind to their electorate after the (last) attempts to change gears within Germany and its periphery (also known as Europe) will have failed and leaving the Euro will be the last resort.

    When there is a winner and the winner starts farting, born leaders in all places and from all walks of life start clapping hands and join in farting along with the leader. After all: who wants to oppose the leader, especially given the evidence, that he is in a folly? Might be dangerous.

    TINA – there is no alternative (to our economic gains/credits we give and the others economic defeat/debts they must take) – is nothing else but ‘der totale Krieg’, the total war of the past. What else does TINA mean in the face of millions who suffer? Also you might say Germany is so entangled with the burden of moral as well as material debt of its past, that it pours billions and billions of credits on the economically defeated neighburs translating their economic drowning and indeptedness into a deep moral defect that soothes her old wounds. Also you might say: It is ok when the German soccer team is leader and worldchampion, but never, never let Germany as a state take a lead in international affairs.

    Germany deserves much respect in many aspects. A very farsighted Indian once said it perfectly: ‘I love Germans, but they are very dangerous’. What country is Germany anyway? I wonder, if the Germans (note: who were the first to be impoverished by their governement since 2000 and who’s money might well be lost (again!) on TINA) know, what kind of and for how long a country Germany is. I guess, they might feel like ‘Right now we are Europe’. Almost entirely throughout the 20th century Germany has kept her tirannic heart beating in different shapes. First united and big, then quite a bit smaller her tirannic heart missed only a few beats with a short attempt at trying something more democratic, only to recover in a rage, and after being devided for over fourty years and the west of Germany being contained by the Allies it beat on in the east until 1989. On both sides, in the east and in the west, it was a model country. What we have got after the reunion is a Germany, that, while dumping the German Demacratic Republic (east) as well as the Federal Republic of Germany (west), has maintained her tirannic heart and considers herself a new model country against all odds, while the pillars on which she stands in the Euro-swamp are beginning to break away. A very dangerous moment.

    Churchill called the period from the First through the Second Worldwar a modern Thirty Years’ War. In Europe today, it does not look like it was the last one. Most unfortunately the west is obsessed about containing Russia, when Germany is, what needed to be contained in the first place right from the start after the reunion. Germany, not Russia, poses a very serious threat to Europe. Everybody loves Angela Merkel for her strong and enduring resistance to heat up the war in the Ukrain by sending arms etc. Well, you would want to keep the firebrigade at home, when there is so much smoke building up in the backyard and all you can think of is TINA.

    I hope I am completely wrong and things will turn out much better and Germany … , well is not Germany the way history has has told again and again. I have the greatest respect for people like Yanis Varoufakis and all others, who stand up awake and alert, when everybody (including the leading papers) is sleeping, while the storm builds up. What other hope is there?

  5. It may sound weird but Dijsselbloem is actually an economist, indeed an agrigulture economist. If only he were a farmer, because farmers usually understand the long-term dynamics of debt and investment a bit better.

    No doubt as a true Calvinist, Dijsselbloem sincerely and deeply believes in the healing powers of austerity and the moral obligation (and ability) of “the Greeks” to pay back loans + interest while implementing “reforms” AND magically growing the Greek economy, if only competent policy makers such as himself would be running the country.

    • Thanks for the background on Dijsselbloem.

      He should try reading the Bible. From the link below, “The Bible contains more than 300 verses on the poor, social justice, and God’s deep concern for both. This page contains a wide sample of them, and some reflections. It’s aimed at anyone who takes the Bible seriously.”