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Talking to my Daughter about the Economy: or, How Capitalism Works--and How It Fails

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  7,218 ratings  ·  815 reviews
In Talking to My Daughter About the Economy, activist Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s former finance minister and the author of the international bestseller Adults in the Room, pens a series of letters to his young daughter, educating her about the business, politics, and corruption of world economics.

Yanis Varoufakis has appeared before heads of nations, assemblies of experts,
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published May 8th 2018 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2013)
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T.D. Whittle
Dec 08, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
Two stars for "It was okay."

What I liked: Varoufakis explains his understanding of the evolution of Capitalism briefly, clearly, and engagingly. A bright child really could read and grasp what he has written. That's well done and not easy to achieve.

I am going to review this as if politics and economies are necessarily married to each other, because that is Varoufakis's belief and one which I completely agree with. Good luck trying to separate the two! He gives a very good explanation of Bitcoi
This is a lovely book and I’ve asked both of my daughters to read it and have already started talking to one of them about it. It is nice for a couple of reasons. The first is that it explains complicated ideas in highly accessible ways. As he says at the start, you probably shouldn’t trust anyone who can’t explain even difficult concepts in a way that a reasonably educated person can understand. This is doubly true of economics, particularly since our world is run according to the dictates of e ...more
Aug 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
A favorite, surpassing the sea of ECON101 books; the storytelling alone makes me revisit this. The most accessible introduction to "the market economy", unraveling this enigma while rooted in real-life concerns and historical/global scope...

The Brilliant:
--A flow of stories and thought-experiments bringing to life the big-picture logic and consequences of our global market economy, with zero jargon or formulas. You can supplement the rest elsewhere; the purpose here is to get you inspired to exp
May 舞
Jan 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-ficition
Buddy read with R Nair

"The worst slavery is that of heavily indoctrinated happy morons who adore their chains and cannot wait to thank their masters for the joy of their subservience."

I've been meaning to read a book explaining how Capitalism works for a very long time, and I'm glad to say that this concise yet inclusive work of non-fiction delivers splendidly.

Written in very simple language, this book explains:

The necessity of surplus for states to exist.
The emergence of profit as an end of i
W.D. Clarke
In this book, Varoufakis shows us how the growth of human civilization gave birth to the first systems of politically-legitimized inequality (and how ancient and feudal inequality, characterized by "societies with markets", gave way to a much different kind of world, that of the "market society", of capitalism, in which everyone is driven to, compelled to, sell their labour, and in which the only real value is "exchange value").

Varoufakis also takes us on a tour of several key moments that truly
Yanis Varoufakis, economics professor and former finance minister of Greece, subscribes to a simple view that I share: if you can’t teach your subject to kids, you’re not such a good teacher….. (OK, string theorists might get a let off on that one, but only maybe). Now, for those of us who teach history, sociology, cultural studies and the like it might seem that we’re getting off easily in comparison to Varoufakis, who teaches economics. Towards the end of the engaging and highly accessible his ...more
D.  St. Germain
Apr 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: capitalism
Yanis Varoufakis, the cheeky former Greek minister of finance and a saavy economics professor, delivers an explanatory book on modern capitalism for the non-academic, using a variety of examples from European history, Greek mythology, and pop culture to make his points.

Varoufakis believes that understanding economics is key to a truly well-functioning democracy. Yet, the jargon-filled academic field of economics obscures important ideas in strange language and uses inane examples that make it
Peter (Pete) Mcloughlin
Economics is one of the ideological bulwarks of the current order. It is a discipline that is so influential on affairs of the present that it is imperative that it not be left to the experts. A democratic polity depends on knowing how economics work if it is to make sensible political decisions. The author brings economics, markets and finance down to earth. He explains how these things came about how they operate and why it is important to understand these forces which rule our lives. He expla ...more
Feb 11, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black
Before he launched Progressive International with Bernie Sanders in 2018, before he wrote books on the world's response to the 2008 financial crisis, before he was Greece's Finance Minister in 2015 during high-stakes negotiations between Greece and the EU on how to cope with Greece's economic and budgetary collapse, Yanis Varoufakis wrote a book (in Greek) explaining economics to adolescents (such as his daughter). It was subsequently translated into many other languages, but not into English un ...more
Roel Peters
Without doubt, Yanis Varoufakis is a brilliant man. His book, "The Global Minotaur", was a much needed alternative vision on the state of the global economy. However, in his new book, using simple examples and some history lessons, Varoufakis tries to explain his vision in words that a teenager would understand. I agree on the starting point of the book, that many theories exist solely to legitimize the position of the ruling class and rationalize inequality. Yet, despite his obsessive reference ...more
Doruntina Berisha
I'm surprised that people rated the book with 2 stars! But then again people who like and profit from Capitalism obviously won't like this book. The book is brilliantly written.
The first time I've ever understood Bitcoin.
Aug 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: economics, favorite
Right from the boomers upto today's newer generations of various terminologies, Economy is something that's always been a bit obscure to clarify things out. People often say it's too big to fail. In 2008, US recovered the market economy from the crises period through people's tax money of 14 trillion dollars so as to make things stable. Most of everyday influencers say that we have to leave Economics to the experts. Yanis being a Economist himself simply disagrees.

"There are no economic experts.
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, economics
"When you were born, your name, Xenia, appealed to me greatly because its etymology comes from the Greek word xenos, meaning 'stranger' or 'foreigner' and translates as 'kindness to strangers'. The appeal of this name came in part from my belief that the best way to see your country, your society, is to see it through the eyes of an outsider, a refugee. [...] Doing so will grant you the opportunity to retain your freedom."

In this book, Yanis Varoufakis who is widely regarded as one of the gr
Abhijeet Jain
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Amazing book! Covers a lot of ground related to economics, from ancient Egypt system to present trend of cryptocurrencies. I especially love the way Yanis presented his views. The book gives you an interesting perspective to look at markets. A society with markets vs market societies, government vs bankers, the author talked about these in quite a detail.
Overall an interesting book. Would be re-reading it soon.
Matt Thackeray
Like many heterodox economists, Yannis Varaoufakis enjoys the limelight given by holding provocative and challenging points of view. This book is very much in the same vein, examining how capitalism in its current form came to be. Using a range of personal anecdotes and pop culture references, he illustrates in relatively easy-to-follow discussions the various aspects of what drives our modern economies.

Where his book falls down is in the blanket covering of all forms of capitalism being the sam
A very clear discussion of market economics presented as a series of missives to his daughter in Australia. Each chapter was short enough for a single commute into town, and draws on lots of comparisons with popular and more traditional (although mostly Greek) references to illustrate his points. Heartily recommended for anybody who, like me, wanted to have more of a grounding in a subject that I've previously had to rely on the BBC's Steph McGovern for all my knowledge. A point deducted as it f ...more
Coral Davies
May 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Leaving the economy to the experts is the equivalent of those who lived in the Middle Ages entrusting their welfare to the theologians, the cardinals and the Spanish inquisitors. It is a terrible idea."

A necessary book for all. Not interested in economics? Find it dull and unnacessible? Honestly give this a go. Thought-provoking and relatable, Yanis once again gets us all thinking about the important questions in life with regards to the economy and politics.
While there was nothing new in this book, it did succeed in presenting a coherent and relatable explanation of what the economy is and why it functions as it does. I would have liked it if Varoufakis had also provided some more thoughts on potential solutions or alternatives, but it is still a short and worthwhile read. 3.5 stars.
Dan Hamilton
Jan 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Yanis has done something noble here. He’s taken an endlessly complex topic and brought it down to a level understandable by anyone willing to listen. And he’s done so with wit, wisdom, and an unmistakable moral clarity.
Ali Khosravi
May 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Probably one of the best books ever written about the economy and the history of Capitalism (and to think that he finished writing it in only 9 days), the difference being that Varoufakis is not afraid to demystify and simplify his vocation whereas his colleagues have a egotistical tendency to make economic concepts sound more complicated than they actually are to attract more research funding. This is an absolute must read for every young person today, to understand what kind of a world we will ...more
R Nair
Jan 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"If the economy is the engine of society and debt is its fuel, then labour is the spark, the life-breathing force that animates that engine, while money is the lubricant without which that engine would seize up"

A buddy read with May

Short, sweet and concise. This book explains all the essentials that a simpleton such as yours truly has been confounded by over the years and has been too embarrassed to ask anyone about. Turns out most people don't have a fair idea about statements like " Central ba
ruby healy
A must read for everyone.

"Talking To My Daughter" is the perfect introduction to economics, using easy language and wonderfully accessible analogies to explain how capitalistism works. Because of this, it pulls back the curtain and exposes the myth that the economy is just too complicated for anyone who isn't an economist to understand, and thus, should be "left to the experts." Because most of the time, they are just as clueless as we are.
Highly recommending
Ryan Boissonneault
Talking to My Daughter About the Economy: A Brief History of Capitalism by Yanis Varoufakis is a short book that describes the economy in simple terms using personal stories and classical literature and myths.

To begin with, let’s start with a quote from the book, which I think might capture the overall message nicely:

“The worst slavery is that of heavily indoctrinated happy morons who adore their chains and cannot wait to thank their masters for the joy of their subservience.”

This heavy indoct
Patrick Sherriff
Very readable critique of market societies. My proper review is here: ...more
Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A mathematician, a software developer and an economist walks into a bar.

The bartender polishing a glass, “What is 1 + 1?”
The mathematician instantly answers, “2”.
The software developer waits until the mathematician is done, “1.999999….”
The economist looks directly into the bartenders eyes, “What do you want it to be?”

This joke was given by Varoufakis at Politics and Prose, a talk I watched before reading this book and I think it sums up his healthy cynicism of most economists. Neoliberalism and
Jan 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's great! I learned a lot!
May 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
I will admit that the first thing that caught my eye about Talking to My Daughter About the Economy was the title. It reminded me of being in the car on the way to school, back when I went to school up in Mountain Lakes, and listening to my dad explain concepts like business cycles, the structure of student loan repayment plans, why credit cards aren't money, and, of course, surety bonds. There were simplified lessons on Keynesian macroeconomic theories, heavily seasoned with Grateful Dead lyric ...more
Mar 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I don't usually read a lot of none fiction - I have always thought that I needed a character and plot driven story to make a book a page-turner for me.

That being said I picked this book up as somebody who understands the basic concept of capitalism but not much more. I wasn't really expected to enjoy reading it but I did want to understand more about the topics the book covers. I was pleasantly surprised to find this book was really accessible and easy to understand and kept me interested all t
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Let me begin with a confession: I am a Professor of Economics who has never really trained as an economist. While I may have a PhD in Economics, I do not believe I have ever attended more than a few lectures on economics! But let's take things one at a time.

I was born in Athens back in the mists of 1961. Greece was, at the time, struggling to shed the post-civil war veil of totalitar

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