On Global Trade & Investment
Published By:
The Global Business Dialogue, Inc.
Washington, DC   Tel: 202-463-5074
No. 18 of 2018
FRIDAY, MARCH 30, 2018

Click here for yesterday's KORUS quote from Ambassador Lighthizer.


"There are two kinds of politicians, insiders and outsiders ...So, Yanis, which of the two are you." 

Larry Summers 
as quoted by Yanis Varoufakis 
April 16, 2015
Yanis Varofakis is a Greek economist and politician.  In January 2015, he was elected to the Greek parliament.  Two days later he became Greece's Minister of Finance and as such a if not the central figure in the tragic drama known as the Greek financial crisis.  This entry is not about that crisis or Greek politics.  We just want to share the Larry Summers' insight quoted above and, as usual, provide some context for it. 

As Finance Minister, Mr. Varoufakis was constantly negotiating with the troika, the three entities responsible for organizing loans to Greece and others and the group, outside of Greece itself, with the most to say about the management of the crisis.  The troika members are the European Central Bank, the EU Commission, and the International Monetary Fund. 

In April 2015, Mr. Varoufakis was in Washington for a meeting with the IMF, and that evening he met Larry Summers for drinks.  Our impressions is that Mr. Summers, one of the more famous former U.S. Treasury Secretaries, had corresponded with Mr. Varoufakis, but that the two had not met in person prior to that April evening.  Our source for all of this is Mr. Varoufakis's book, Adults in the Room, which recounts his experience as Finance Minister from January to July 2015.  The story of his meeting with Larry Summers is right up front in Chapter 1.  Here is the full Summers' quote on insiders and outsiders as related by Varoufakis:

There are two kinds of politicians, insiders and outsiders.  The outsiders prioritize their freedom to speak their version of the truth.  The price of their freedom is that they are ignored by the insiders, who make the important decisions.  The insiders, for their part, follow a sacrosanct rule: never turn against other insiders and never talk to outsiders about what insiders say or do.  Their reward?  Access to inside information and a chance, though no guarantee, of influencing powerful people and outcomes.

So, Yanis, which of the two are you?

Mr. Varoufakis began his reply saying, "By character, I am a natural outsider."  Judging from his writing, we would agree.
Comment. Today's world is playing havoc with the concepts of insider and outsider, especially the notion of insiders.  You will each have your own views as to who the insiders are.  Outsiders, well that is just about everybody.  We won't go too deeply into the question of outsiders either, but we need to share this quote, which Varoufakis himself clearly loved.  Here is Varoufakis again:

"You have no right to do this.  Just vote no!"

A young woman shouted these words at a member of parliament as he struggled past the Syntagma Square occupiers into Parliament House to vote for one of the Bailoutistant 2.0 bills.

'Who are you to judge what I should or shouldn't vote for?" he barked. 

Her devastating answer came effortlessly: "Who do I have to be?"

Correction. In the version of yesterday's quote that went out to most of you, we had Ambassador Lighthizer standing on "the House Lawn."  That was a typo.  We apologize.  He was on the White House lawn, but you probably figured that out.

Update: KORUS.   As you may have seen, there was a twist in the announced KORUS agreement.  While the White House has had only good things to say about the amendments to the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement, the President raised doubts about the next steps.  That happened yesterday in Ohio, where he said, "I may hold it up until after a deal is made with North Korea."  Our hope is that the operative word there is "may," which can be read as "may or may not."

Update: Varoufakis.  This past Monday, Mr. Varoufakis announced that he is founding a new Greek political party, MeRA 25, which, according to The Guardian, will have "the overarching aim of releasing Greece from 'debt bondage". 

Update: Religion.  This is Good Friday. We hope you had a good day.  Whatever you did or didn't do, don't worry.  The good news from Pope Francis is "A hell doesn't exist."  The Vatican says that is a misquote, or as they so artfully put it, the quote was "the fruit of his [Eugenio Scalfari] reconstruction" and not "a faithful transcription of the Holy Father's words."  No doubt, but we're going with it, at least for now. 

 Adults in the Room is the entry for this book by Yanis Varoufakis on the Amazon website. The book was the source for today's featured quote.

Yanis Varoufakis is the Wikipedia entry for this Greek economist, writer, and politician.

Leveraging KORUS II takes you to a Financial Times story on this KORUS development and including the President's quote linking the recent deal to developments in the forthcoming talks with North Korea.

New Greek Party is a story from The Guardian on the launch of Varoufakis's new political party in Greece, MeRA 25.

Reprieve from the Pope, also a story from The Guardian, explains the different versions of what Pope Francis said or is reported to have said about the existence of hell.   


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©2017 The Global Business Dialogue, Inc.
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Tel: (202) 463-5074
R. K. Morris, Editor
Joanne Thornton, Associate Editor