I’m an independent writer, commentator, consultant and public speaker with high-level policymaking experience, based in London but interested in the whole world. To put it another way, I’m a thinker, a communicator and a doer.
Three big passions define my wide-ranging career: trying to understand how economics, politics and culture combine to form the big picture, communicating this to a wider audience and trying to make the world a better place. Through my work, writing and media appearances, I’ve been at the heart of many of the big debates of the past 20 years – about globalisation, international migration, the Western financial crisis and the euro – from a variety of vantage points:
• academia: as a student at the London School of Economics (1992-6), later as a visiting fellow at LSE’s European Institute (2007-10) and now as a senior visiting fellow (2014-);
• high-level policymaking: as special adviser to the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (2000-1) and as independent economic adviser to the President of the European Commission and head of the team that provides him with strategic policy advice (2011-14);
• journalism: as a correspondent for the Baltic Independent and a stringer for the Financial Times in newly independent Estonia (1991-2), as trade and economics correspondent at The Economist (1997-2000), as editor of World Link, the magazine of the World Economic Forum (2002) and independently;
• political campaigning: as chief economist and then director of policy at Britain in Europe (2002-5);
• as the author of critically acclaimed books on globalisation, international migration, the financial crisis and Europe;
• as an independent commentator, consultant and public speaker.
All that gives me a unique combination of insider knowledge, intellectual authority and independent perspective on both global and European political economy issues.
I’m fascinated by 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 ongoing crisis is threatening our open societies, post-war Europe’s most wonderful achievement. We need to break up banks and write down debts, instead of sacrificing our future to them.
I have written for many interesting publications 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, not to mention Project Syndicate. In 1999, I was highly commended as Young Financial Journalist of the Year in the Harold Wincott Press Awards. I have also written four books: Open World: The Truth about Globalisation (2002), Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them (2007), Aftershock: Reshaping the World Economy After the Crisis (2010) and European Spring: Why Our Economies and Politics are in a Mess – and How to Put Them Right (2014). 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. 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 International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, the Swedish government’s Globalisation Council, UNDP and the Asian Development Bank.
I am a commentator on BBC TV and radio on globalisation, migration and European issues. 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 am 40. In case you are wondering why I have a French name, my father is French (and my mother Estonian), 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, as well as for pleasure. I’m mad about music — mainly house; 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, in a progressive sense. 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.