I write primarily about global economic issues – notably globalisation, migration and the post-crisis world – but through my blog and my contributions to the Guardian’s Comment is Free I also range more widely. I’m fascinated by how economics, politics and culture combine to form the big picture and how the world is coming together through globalisation while becoming ever more diverse through cultural mixing and individual choice. I’m excited by the rapid development of China, India, Brazil and other emerging economies, which is creating incredible new opportunities for people there, as well as for people in advanced economies. I think people should be free to live, work and fall in love wherever they please. I’m bullish about clean technologies. But I worry that the recent crisis has put all that at risk. That’s one reason why I think global banks form a dangerous cartel that needs to be broken up. I also think we need to be wary of rising debt, barriers and temperatures.
I am extremely proud to be a Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics’ European Institute as well as a contributing editor to Prospect magazine. I have written for many interesting publications in Britain and the US such as the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal Europe, The Times, The Guardian, The Independent, New Statesman and The Ecologist, as well as The New Republic, Foreign Policy and the Chronicle Review. In 1999, I was highly commended as Young Financial Journalist of the Year in the Harold Wincott Press Awards. I have also written three books: Open World: The Truth about Globalisation (2002), Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them (2007) and Aftershock: Reshaping the World Economy After the Crisis (2010). Immigrants was shortlisted for the 2007 Financial Times Business Book of the Year award.
I’m an accomplished public speaker at events around the world: the 2007 Metropolis conference in Melbourne, the annual meeting of Dansk Industri in Copenhagen, a Deloitte EMEA human-resources conference in Athens, and the Carnegie Council in New York, to name but four. I also spent two-and-a-half weeks touring wonderful New Zealand in May 2009 to speak about the economic benefits of diversity. I have done consultancy work for a variety of clients, including the Swedish government’s Globalisation Council, UNDP and the Asian Development Bank.
I am a commentator on BBC TV and radio on globalisation and migration. Perhaps my favourite TV moment, though, was going head-to-head with Neil Cavuto on America’s Fox News where I wiped the floor with him — or at least I like to think so:
I studied economics and then politics of the world economy at the London School of Economics. My journalistic career started at The Economist, where I wrote about trade and economics. From there, I moved to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) where I was special adviser to director-general Mike Moore. For my sins, I was briefly editor of World Link, the magazine of the World Economic Forum, a fantastic opportunity, albeit for a disreputable organisation. And I spent three years at Britain in Europe as chief economist and then director of policy, making the case for the euro and the ill-fated European constitution in anticipation of referendums that were never called. Since 2005, I have enjoyed the freedom of being self-employed.
I am now 36, which makes me painfully young for some and terribly past it for others. In case you are wondering why I have a French name, my father is French (and my mother Estonian American), but I was born in London and consider myself British, albeit also cosmopolitan. My friends call me Phil. I love writing, but it is not my whole life by any means. I enjoy experiencing new places and meeting new people — which is why I have taught myself Spanish and some Portuguese, as well as speaking French. I am trying to learn Mandarin. I have had the privilege of travelling around the world three times to do research for my books. I’m mad about music — mainly house and electro; my favourite DJs are Mark Westhenry and Sander Kleinenberg. I’m a big Arsenal fan. I enjoy reading — Kundera, Garcia Marquez and Murakami rock my boat — intelligent films and great TV series such as The Wire.
My outlook is broadly liberal, socially and economically. I am passionate about individual freedom, think markets (outside finance) generally work well and believe that competition is usually a powerful force for good. But I am also convinced that governments need to intervene vigorously to make a reality of equality of opportunity and help the less fortunate. I would say I am an optimistic realist: while the world is often wretched and unfair, there are now much greater opportunities for freedom and progress for many more people than ever before. At a personal level, I believe that although lots of bad things may happen, we have only one life and we should make the best of it.