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  • European Spring: Why Our Economies and Politics are in a Mess – and How to Put Them Right

    Britain and the rest of Europe are in a mess. Our economies are failing to deliver higher living standards for most people – and many have lost faith in politicians’ ability to deliver a brighter future, with support for parties like UKIP soaring. Are stagnation, decline and disillusionment inevitable?

  • Aftershock: Reshaping the World Economy After the Crisis — out now

    The financial crisis brought the world to the brink of economic breakdown. But now bankers’ bonuses are back, house prices are rising again and politicians promise recovery – all this while unemployment remains high, debts mount, frictions with China grow and the planet overheats.
    Is this really sustainable – or do we need to change course?

    Aftershock
  • Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them

    Immigration divides our globalising world like no other issue. We are being swamped by bogus asylum-seekers and infiltrated by terrorists, our jobs stolen, our benefit system abused, our way of life destroyed – or so we are told. Why are ever-rising numbers of people from poor countries arriving in Europe, North America and Australasia? Can we keep them out? Should we even be trying?

    Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them

Our open societies are under attack from the likes of Donald Trump, Nigel Farage and Viktor Orban, who want to pull up the drawbridge, stamp on difference and try to turn the clock to an idealised past. That’s why I’ve founded Open Political Economy Network (OPEN), a campaigning international think-tank, to defend and advance open liberal societies. We believe in being open to the world, open to everyone in society and open to the future and all its possibilities for progress.  We’ve already done groundbreaking work on why welcoming refugees is a humanitarian investment that yields economic dividends, how to get refugees into work quickly and how to open up Europe’s digital single market. We regularly publish insight on immigration, trade, Brexit and much else.

Check out OPEN’s website. Join us. Follow OPEN on Twitter at @open2progress, join our Facebook group, and watch our fundraising video on Indiegogo’s Generosity.com at https://igg.me/at/SndP2xCxg1k  All the money raised will help to pay for a campaigns, social media and events organiser to publicise this study and OPEN’s future work. Thanks!

Posted 20 May 2016 in Blog, Immigration, OPEN, Refugees

Now that the UK government and the EU have finally agreed a Brexit deal, Theresa May must seek Parliament’s approval for it. The battle lines are already drawn. But these do not involve hardline Brexiteers facing off against unreconciled Remainers, or Conservatives against Labour.

The big divide is between pragmatists who think that a bad deal is better than no-deal chaos and players who are willing to risk no-deal chaos to achieve their various ends (a hard Brexit, no Brexit, a Labour government), as I explain for CapX.

Posted 15 Nov 2018 in Blog, Brexit, CapX

Far from prompting other countries to want to leave, the Brexit shambles is boosting support for the EU. Even far-right nationalists have concluded that EU exit is a dead end.

But the EU faces a more insidious threat: that it will disintegrate from within, as nationalists first undermine then seek to take over EU institutions, as I explain in my latest column for Brussels Times

Posted 13 Nov 2018 in Blog, Brexit, Brussels Times, Europe

Photo by Joy Ekpeti

I debated this with Ian Goldin at The Economist’s Open Future conference in London.

Having just flown in from Sydney I was extremely jetlagged, but apart from saying the word “fundamentally” a few too many times, I hope my positive, reasoned message came across well.

Watch the full day on YouTube; our panel starts around 7 hours 11 minutes in

Posted 09 Nov 2018 in Blog, Immigration, The Economist

Angela Merkel’s announcement of her political departure has prompted a predictable response from many quarters: that she was the “steady hand” that held Europe together, and that her “strong and stabilising leadership” will be sorely missed.

Nonsense. Merkel’s 13 years in office have involved domestic drift and European decay. She has complacently coasted along, failing to address Germany’s mounting economic and security challenges, and allowing Europe’s many crises to fester. Her approach would be tolerable for a small country in quiet times; it is catastrophic for Europe’s dominant power in an era of upheaval, as I explain in Project Syndicate.

Mehreen Khan kindly mentioned the piece in the FT’s Brussels briefing

Posted 08 Nov 2018 in Blog, Defence, euro, Europe, Germany, Project Syndicate

My latest column for Brussels Times

Posted 24 Sep 2018 in Blog, Brussels Times, Defence, Europe

Read my contribution to The National Interest

Posted 24 Sep 2018 in Blog, Brexit, The National Interest

Refugees are typically very hard-working, highly motivated and loyal employees, and many are highly skilled too. On a fantastic speaking tour of New Zealand organised by Host International and other partners on 6-10 August I made the case for employing refugees including at a parliamentary breakfast hosted by Minister of Finance Grant Robertson and a lunch hosted by the British High Commissioner in New Zealand, Laura Clarke.

I was interviewed on TV on the AM Show and The Project

I wrote an article for the National Business Review

Here’s my interview with Sam Sadcheva for Newsroom.co.nz on refugee employment and the broader threat to openness from President Trump

Here’s a press release from Multicultural New Zealand calling for action to employ refugees

Here’s a great piece by Thomas Manch on stuff.co.nz

 

Posted 15 Aug 2018 in Blog, New Zealand, Refugees

I spoke about the threats to our open world at an event organised by the New Zealand Initiative at the University of Victoria in Wellington on 8 August. Apologies for the poor-quality audio.

Posted 08 Aug 2018 in Blog, Globalisation, New Zealand

Watch my interview on Al Jazeera English’s Inside Story

Trade wars

By Philippe Legrain Add your comment

I was interviewed about the G7 and trade on Al Jazeera English on 9 June.

I discussed Donald Trump’s trade war with China on Al Jazeera English’s Inside Story on 16 June.

Posted 18 Jun 2018 in Al Jazeera, Blog, China, Trade, Trump

While Europe’s economy has picked up and there is no immediate sign of financial stress, many analysts maintain that reforms are needed to protect the single currency.

“Make no mistake, the euro desperately needs revamping,” Philippe Legrain, a former adviser to the European Commission president and a senior visiting fellow at the London School of Economics’ European Institute wrote of the reforms.

“The eurozone’s institutional framework also needs fundamental reform in four big areas: finance, fiscal policy, economic imbalances, and democratic choice and accountability.”

Check out the full article.

Posted 18 Jun 2018 in Uncategorized

As part of its excellent Open Future series, The Economist has published an open essay by me that asks: how do we convince sceptics of the value of immigration?

The first part is out today, and the subsequent parts will be enriched by readers’ comments. So please take a look and add your ideas and suggestions.

Posted 01 Jun 2018 in Blog, Immigration, The Economist

A big reason why Western politics is in such disarray is voters’ pessimism about the future. 60% of Westerners believe today’s children will be “worse off financially than their parents”. Europeans are particularly gloomy. To paraphrase Hobbes, they expect youngsters’ lives to be solitary, poor, nasty, brutish – and long.

When people doubt that progress is possible, they tend to fear change of any kind. Rather than focusing on opportunities, they see threats everywhere and hold on tighter to what they have. Distributional cleavages come to the fore – toxically so when overlaid with identity clashes.

Western politics can become rosier again, but only if politicians first address the root causes of the gloom. My latest column for Project Syndicate explains what needs to be done.

Posted 01 Jun 2018 in Blog, Europe, Politics, Project Syndicate, United States

I debated the future of the EU at the excellent OECD Forum in Paris on 30 May. Fellow panellists included Sandro Gozi, Amelie de Montchalin, Peter Matjasic and Erika Widegren, with Ryan Heath moderating. Check out the webcast here.

Posted 30 May 2018 in Blog, Europe, OECD

Germany’s economy is doing fine right now and it finally has a new government. So it’s perhaps understandable that it seems content to coast along. Why mess with an ostensibly winning formula? Steady-as-she-goes, business-as-usual Merkelism seems successful and safe.

Yet Germany is actually far more vulnerable than it seems. Europe’s export powerhouse has long been a free-rider on both the open markets and the nuclear security guarantee provided by the United States. Both of those are under threat from Angela Merkel’s ungracious host in Washington yesterday, Donald Trump. The crumbling of that liberal international order seems likely to make Germany even more reliant on the EU for its future prosperity and security.

Yet Merkel seems unwilling to make the short-term concessions needed to secure the longer-term stability and effectiveness of both the eurozone and the EU. This complacency is dangerously shortsighted — and a potentially historic tragedy for Europe. My latest for Foreign Policy.

Posted 12 May 2018 in Blog, euro, Europe, Foreign Policy, Germany

My piece for the Evening Standard

Posted 12 May 2018 in Blog, Britain, Evening Standard, Immigration, London

Donald Trump thinks that because the US buys more from China than it sells in return, it would easily “win” a trade war. But China’s position is actually much stronger, both economically and politically, than that crude calculus suggests. My latest for Foreign Policy

Posted 14 Apr 2018 in Blog, China, Foreign Policy, Trade, United States

The EU is not undemocratic, as some critics claim. But nor is it democratic enough. That urgently needs to change.

Read my latest article for Brussels Times.

Posted 10 Apr 2018 in Blog, Brussels Times, Democracy, Europe

Britain’s immigration system isn’t fit for purpose. Its political targets are perverse. Its guiding philosophy is reminiscent of Soviet-style central planning. The resulting rules are unworkably complex. Their administration by the Home Office mixes incompetence with malice.

The upshot is heavy-handed controls that still leave voters feeling that things are out of control. That’s bad economics and bad politics. Even international students – fee-paying, politically uncontroversial, future ambassadors for Global Britain – are now turfed out once they’ve obtained a UK degree. Madness.

It could soon get even worse. The only bit of the system that works well – EU free movement – is set to be scrapped. Such is the perceived imperative to keep out industrious, enterprising young Europeans that the government seems prepared to sacrifice the UK’s unrestricted access to lucrative EU services markets to do so.

The danger that Britain will pull up the drawbridge is real. But if – a huge if – further knee-jerk populism can be resisted, there is also a political opportunity to craft a more sensible immigration system.

My latest for CapX

Posted 03 Apr 2018 in Blog, Brexit, Britain, CapX, Immigration

Sometimes it takes a prime minister of Luxembourg to hit the nail on the head. “They [Britain] were in with a load of opt-outs. Now they are out, and want a load of opt-ins,” said Xavier Bettel. The problem for the UK is that the European Union is much less accommodating of its demands for special treatment now that it is on the way out. To quote an American Express advertising slogan, membership has its privileges.

Read my latest piece for CapX on why the UK’s “three baskets” approach to Brexit is a non-starter

Posted 13 Mar 2018 in Blog, Brexit, CapX