Sunday 20 October 2019

The Punt: Germans swoon over Greek god, Yanis

Greek Finance Minister Varoufakis and German Finance Minister Schaeuble in Berlin.
Greek Finance Minister Varoufakis and German Finance Minister Schaeuble in Berlin.
Brian Fitzgerald - Appointed Deputy CEO at Beacon Hospital

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has become an improbable heartthrob in Germany, where his charm and appearance have not gone unnoticed.

ZDF television has even lampooned its own news anchor for enthusiastically comparing the minister with Hollywood tough guy Bruce Willis, while 'Stern' magazine published a gushing article on Varoufakis's "classical masculinity".

"Varoufakis is without doubt a man full of charisma," ZDF anchor Marietta Slomka said on air. "Visually, he's someone you could imagine starring in a film like 'Die Hard 6' - he's an interesting character."

Varoufakis's casual appearance - and the fact that he does not tuck his shirts in and leaves their tops unbuttoned - was an unlikely focus of news reports in Germany.

"What makes Yanis Varoufakis a sex icon" was a headline in the conservative newspaper 'Die Welt' while 'Stern' magazine wrote that Varoufakis's appearance reminded Germans of a Greek hero in marble, even though media elsewhere in Europe say he looks more like a bouncer.

Beacon's new deputy ceo

More change is afoot at the Beacon Hospital in Dublin after its acquisition by businessman Denis O'Brien last year.

News emerged yesterday that Brian Fitzgerald has joined as deputy chief executive of the private hospital.

Fitzgerald, pictured, was formerly chief executive and director of finance at St James's Hospital in Dublin.

His move follows the appointments of former AIB managing director Colm Doherty, Maureen Lynott, Niall Devereux and Dermot Hayes to the board of the hospital last year.

Beacon Medical Group co-founders Michael Cullen and cardiothoracic surgeon Prof Mark Redmond are also on the board.

Fitzgerald is a fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and holds an MBA from UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School.

He's also Adjunct Assistant Professor at the Centre of Health Policy and Management at Trinity College's medical school.

Beacon, which first opened in October 2006, treated around 96,000 patients in 2014.

Denis O'Brien took over the hospital from US healthcare company University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

The hospital made a loss of €8.7m in 2013 and €9.8m in 2012.

Are we ready for a 'Grexit'?

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has chaired a meeting with Treasury and Bank of England officials on the possible impact of a Greek exit from the Eurozone.

Is this just political posturing to make Mr Cameron look in command as the clock ticks down to the election in May?

It probably is. But at least it's been made clear that such discussions are taking place, and at a senior level.

In Ireland's case, it's not so clear. The Department of Finance wouldn't comment yesterday when contacted to determine if a similar meeting, or even the prospect of a Greek exit and its impact here, is being specifically discussed at senior level. Nor would the Central Bank.

The Punt understands that the Department of Finance has looked at the possibility of a Greek exit, as well as a Greek default or debt restructuring. But what isn't too clear is if this has happened recently, in a formal or informal context, and at what level.

Ireland is in a much better place than in 2010, as the country is able to access very cheap financing, and therefore, the possibility of contagion is less worrying.

But a possible Greek exit would affect the entire Eurozone. It is fair to say that, for good reason, the risks examined by officials in the Department shouldn't necessarily make it into the public domain.

But it would seem unfathomable to think that senior officials in Finance and the Central Bank, given what has been going on in recent weeks, are not looking at this issue very, very closely to try and determine its impact here.

If not, the time is now.

Irish Independent

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