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Talking to My Daughter About the Economy: A Brief History of Capitalism – Yanis Varoufakis

7th September 2019
Talking to My Daughter About the Economy book cover

Introduction

Talking to My Daughter About the Economy is a book about economics and the causes of inequality in the world. The author’s daughter poses a question of “Why is there so much inequality?” and this triggers the birth of this book. The author aims to urge the readers to take the economy in their own hands in order to attain an authentic democracy and a good society.



Author

Yanis Varoufakis was a professor of economics in a few universities at different parts of the world. In 2015, he was appointed as the finance minister of Greece when the country is embroiled in the government-debt crisis. Nonetheless, he quit after 7 months in office when the negotiation with the European troika failed. He has also authored a few other books related to economics.



Content

Talking to My Daughter About the Economy contains 8 chapters with a prologue and an epilogue. The first chapter is Why so Much Inequality? It is followed by The Birth of Market Society. The third chapter is The Marriage of Debt and Profit. The Black Magic of Banking is the fourth chapter. The ensuing chapters are Two Oedipal Markets, Haunted Machines and The Dangerous Fantasy of Apolitical Money. The final chapter is Stupid Viruses?



Review

This book is not too long but it packs a lot of information. It looks at the economy from some vantage points that I had never thought. After reading this book, I gain some new knowledge on the economy. I bet not a lot of people know that the word “economy” comes from oikonomia, a Greek word for laws of running, or managing a household.

The author uses personal stories, famous myths and even movies to illustrate his points. These include Oedipus and The Matrix. Overall, the author is very good at driving his point home.

According to the author, there are two types of values, namely experiential and exchange values. Experiential value is the value of our experience and does not have a market price attached to it. On the other hand, exchange value reflects the market price for commodities. The triumph of exchange value over experiential value causes the structure of our current societies, which is the market societies. In a market society, anything with a price (i.e. exchange value) is thought to be desirable and this may not be a good thing.

There is also a discussion about currency. The purchasing power of currency depends on its relative abundance or scarcity, rather than its production cost. Currency can take the form of any good depending on the circumstances.

The author has shown that debt plays a big role in our societies as it is the primary factor and essential lubricant of the creation of riches. Without debt, there will be no profit. Nonetheless, debt can also be the devil that brings on financial crises.

This book is easy to understand but the concepts are profound. In this book, the author provides a few choices to his daughter that will shape the future. Which one will she or we choose? It all depends on the individual. Hopefully everyone will choose to improve the world.



Quotes

  1. In the triumph of exchange values over experiential value, as societies with markets evolved into market societies, something else happened: money was transformed from being a means into an end.
  2. The very same process that generates profit and wealth generates financial crashes and crises.
  3. Nothing adds more insult to injury than blaming the victim for their victimhood.
  4. Authentic happiness is impossible, in other words, without dissatisfaction as well as satisfaction.
  5. All systems of domination work by enveloping us in their narrative and superstitions in such a way that we cannot see beyond them.


Rating

2 out of 3 stars



Interested in Talking to My Daughter About the Economy?

You may get the book from Kinokuniya Malaysia through the link below*.

Get the book here

*Disclosure: The above link is Involve Asia affiliate link. Thus, I may earn a small commission when you purchase the book through this link.

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