Monday, February 2, 2015

Waiting for the Greek Thatcher

That’s Tyler Cowan, who seems to be really bothered by the respect that Syriza is getting from the center and left of the economics spectrum.  He wants us to know that the leaders of the party are ignorant and frivolous, and that they are marching their unsuspecting supporters into the maw of chaos.  He cites a fringy libertarian think tank to assert that Syriza is really a stalking horse for Putin or international communism or some amalgam of the two.  The conclusion?  “Greece needs its Thatcheropoulous.”

Now I realize that Cowan is a denizen of the Mercatus Center, which should make him an expert of sorts on fringy libertarian think tanks.  His blog pushes hard right, but he gains credibility by doing it complexly, in a cultivated manner, acknowledging exceptions.  The Syriza thing, though, seems to really get under his skin.  How can an avowed Marxist like Yanis Varoufakis be treated like an enlightened human being, much less a superior economist to the virtuous, Keynes-hating paragons of Euro-austerity?  What about the fatal conceit?  The gulags?  These people must be denounced!

But the result is a blog post that is simply an incoherent, red-baiting mess.  In particular, he writes, Greece needs leadership that is “strong, credible, pro-debt renegotiation, pro-capitalism, anti-corruption, pro-tax fairness, and pro-foreign investment.”  Well, I don’t know what pro-capitalism means (does it include worker co-management as in Germany?), but the rest of the items were specifically mentioned in post-election news conferences by Varoufakis.  When you strip away the rhetoric, Cowan doesn't have an argument, just his animus.


Don Coffin said...

You are right. Incoherent is a kind way of putting it. And his ideological predispositions are clearly on display, about as nakedly here as in anything he has ever blogged. I also found the "pro-capitalist" bit odd, almost amusing. said...

Well, of the 7 items Tyler put forward as being where the current non-VSP governmnet is supposedly clearly failing, their being anti-capitlist is about the only one that really seems to be there, although that amounts when it gets down to it to being their halting of the ongoing privatizations, not some wild move to go nationalize a bunch of privately held means of production.

On at least 4, he is just off. They look strong, they look like they want to renegotiate the debt, they look like they are anti-corruption, and they want to reform the tax code. And the resignation of the top tax guy was due to threats from corrupt rich people threatening his life for trying to collect from them. This does not fit Tyler's story at all.

On credibility and attitudes to fdi, these look more up in the air to be determiened later, but more generally the case against them looks pretty weak here, and that Russia offered money, well they came out for at least some EU sanctions on Russia over the weekend. They do not look like patsies for Putin at all.