In the last two weeks Yanis Varoufakis has catapulted to work fame. Just a month ago very few people outside of Greece knew this man who lived in academy circles. He is now the finance minister of a bankrupt country.
Mr Varoufakis, who was born in Athens in 1961 to a middle-class family and went to an exclusive private school. By profession and education he is an economist whose enthusiasms extend from Thai food to English literature.
After Syriza’s election victory he borrowed from the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas for his blog: “Greek democracy today chose to stop going gently into the night. Greek democracy resolved to rage against the dying of the light.”
The young Mr Varoufakis was inspired to study economics after he met Andreas Papandreou, an economist who founded Pasok and became Greece’s first socialist prime minister. Mr Varoufakis studied in the UK at Essex University, a hotbed of radical thought in the 1980s. He lectured at Essex and Cambridge before immigrating to Australia in 1988.
A popular lecturer at Sydney university, he had his own slot on a local television show serving the Greek diaspora, on which he promoted his critical opinions on how the conservative government of John Howard, the then prime minister, was running the economy. He also acquired Australian citizenship.
Mr Varoufakis was invited back to Greece in 2000 to teach economic theory at Athens University by Yannis Stournaras, a professor who is now the country’s central bank governor. “Yanis was an exciting new addition. . . He made an important contribution, among other things, to our expertise on game theory,” says Mr Stournaras.
By Barry Norman, Investors Trading Academy