Talking to My Daughter About the Economy: A Book Review

Book Review: Talking to My Daughter about the Economy: A Brief History of Capitalism by Yanis Varoufakis

I picked up this book because, whilst I don’t have a daughter, I am a daughter myself. Knowing my journey with economics and ultimately majoring in it at university, I’m keen to ensure more girls understand in plain language the workings of the economy.

Yanis Varoufakis is most well known as the Greek Financial Minister at the most critical point of the modern Greek economy, aiming to bring Greece out of the government debt crisis. However, I most remember him as my Economics lecturer whilst I was at Sydney University in the late 90s. Always passionate and straight forward, Varoufakis shows clarity and strength throughout this book.

The book is written to Varoufakis’ daughter, who was 14 years old at the time it was published. It is a wonderful mix of classic economics, personal, historic and modern examples, mythology and even TV and movie references. His passion for his home nation of Greece, as well as his one-time adopted nation of Australia is clear throughout.

I particularly enjoyed his tale of inflation and deflation in POW camps during WW2 using tea, coffee and cigarettes as the simple worked examples.

He also touches on some great modern examples of where economics places greater importance on exchange value rather than on today’s important resources such as the environment. By using an example of forest fires, Varoufakis shows how these fires increase the economic value of a nation (by fighting the fire), rather than decreasing it by the value of the loss of flora and fauna -an obvious gap in economic theory.

Whilst a little left leaning at times, it is a book providing simple and clear examples of the history of capitalist society that many daughters (and others) can read and understand.

Enjoy the read!