Writing from the office of the Greek Ministry of Finance in 2013, economist Yanis Varoufakis turned his knowledge and expertise towards a challenging new audience: his teenage daughter.
Varoufakis’s Talking to My Daughter About the Economy (The Bodley Head, $22.99) presents a brief history of capitalism, written in simple prose and littered with anecdotes and pop culture references that render complex ideas and theories comprehensible. His tone is gentle, but avoids condescension, as he addresses his daughter’s innocent question: “Why is there so much inequality in the world?”
His writing is smart, confident and concise, and it is refreshingly easy to tag along on his journey through the history of money, debt, value and labour. The book is a result of just nine days of writing, on his island home of Aegina, where he reflected on how to explain this complex and often paradoxical world to his teenager. His purpose in writing this book boiled down to one clear message: everyone should be able to talk confidently about the economy. Or as he puts it, “the economy is far too important to leave to the economists”.
If you’re still scrambling to find a Christmas gift for a teen or young adult, I wholeheartedly recommend this book. For a generation that is becoming increasingly consumed with what they see as the inescapable bleakness of living in a capitalist society (see our Netflix obsessions over the last year or so – Squid Game, Money Heist, Lupin – all with ultimately the same villain: capitalism), this book is simultaneously comforting and eye-opening. It has the magical quality of replacing one’s rage and dissatisfaction with a well-informed understanding of how the economy works, and how it doesn’t.