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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?

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  • 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?

  • 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

Mon article, traduit pour l’OPEE

Posted 20 Jul 2015 in Blog, Debt, euro, OPEE

I was interviewed at the Lindau meeting of Nobel laureates in economics

Posted 08 Jul 2015 in Blog, Economics

Offer Greece debt relief. My column for Foreign Policy

Posted 06 Jul 2015 in Blog, Debt, euro, Foreign Policy, Germany, Greece

Interviewed by Dan White

Posted 06 Jul 2015 in Blog, Debt, euro, Greece, Irish Independent

Chris Giles’s piece on Greece unquestioningly parrots its eurozone creditors’ position. Stop. Little could be further from the truth.

Nobody denies Greek governments were profligate. But reckless borrowers require reckless lenders. It is those reckless private creditors who were bailed out by eurozone governments and the International Monetary Fund in 2010: nine of every ten euros lent to an insolvent Greece since then went to pay back debt that should have been restructured. Because of eurozone governments’ refusal to accept a restructuring of Greece’s debts in 2010, the austerity subsequently imposed and the depression that this caused were unnecessarily great – perversely causing public debt to soar as a share of Greece’s shrivelled GDP. One quarter of positive growth after a collapse of GDP of 21 per cent over five years – a cumulative loss of more than 100 per cent of Greek output – scarcely vindicates the creditors’ strategy.

Yes, Greece’s debts have since been restructured – but not enough to make them sustainable. This is a moving target, because the conditions for EU-IMF funding cause its debt burden to keep rising. And the debt overhang stifles investment because, with creditors breathing down the government’s neck, businesses fear punitive tax hikes. The overhang also causes crippling uncertainty about how it is going to be resolved, stunting growth. The creditors have exacerbated this by wrongly claiming that default implies Grexit. Yet there is no legal basis for this claim: it is blackmail, as Alexis Tsipras rightly says – as is capping emergency liquidity to Greek banks, forcing Greece to impose capital controls and limit bank withdrawals.

I don’t speak for Syriza. But Yanis Varoufakis is very clear that Greece doesn’t want additional funding from its creditors. After all, since Greece is broadly at primary balance, additional funding is solely needed to refinance old debt, to maintain eurozone creditors’ pretence that Greece is solvent. Syriza wants relief so as to make Greece’s debts sustainable, regain market access and escape from misrule by its incompetent and self-interested creditors.

That debt relief would impose losses on European taxpayers – not just Germans but also poor Spaniards and Slovaks – is deeply unfair. But their democratic wishes were violated, and those losses imposed, when Angela Merkel, Jean-Claude Trichet and other eurozone leaders together decided to breach the Maastricht Treaty’s no-bailout rule and lend taxpayers’ money to an insolvent Greece in 2010, ostensibly out of solidarity, but actually to bail out French and German banks. Those losses are sunk: debt relief merely makes this transparent to voters – hence why Merkel is so desperate to avoid it.

Greece is not a “misbehaving child”, as Giles calls it. It is infantilised by its creditors’ unwillingness to release it from debtors’ prison, leaving it dependent on them for conditional liquidity. As adults, Greeks need to regain control over their destiny. Let them then hold the Syriza government accountable for its decisions at the next election.


Clarification: Chris Giles claim he did not call Greece a “misbehaving child” and that this is a “smear”. The relevant paragraph is below, so readers can judge for themselves.

In another act of solidarity, creditors have made it perfectly clear that further debt relief will be on offer once Greece implements the lending conditions to which it says it agrees. This is a perfectly sensible attempt to reward good behaviour on the principle that you do not give treats to a misbehaving child.

Posted 03 Jul 2015 in Blog, Debt, euro, Greece

Full article here

Posted 30 Jun 2015 in Blog, Debt, euro, Greece

My column for CapX

Posted 29 Jun 2015 in Blog, CapX, euro, Greece

Read the full article here

Posted 29 Jun 2015 in Blog, Debt, euro, Greece, Huffington Post

My column for Foreign Policy

Posted 28 Jun 2015 in Blog, euro, Foreign Policy, Greece

In his column for American Prospect, James K. Galbraith writes about my testimony to the Greek Parliament’s Debt Truth Committee

Posted 22 Jun 2015 in Blog, Debt, euro, Greece

I was interviewed by on the potential consequences of Grexit

Posted 19 Jun 2015 in Blog, euro, Greece

On 11 June I testified about Greek debt and the bailout of Greece’s creditors to the Debt Truth Committee of the Greek Parliament. Watch the video here

More coverage here, here and here, and here

Posted 14 Jun 2015 in Blog, Debt, euro, Greece

I’m quoted on Greek debt in the French newspaper Libération:

«Imaginez que vous êtes en prison pour ne pas avoir payé vos dettes, suggérait vendredi l’économiste Philippe Legrain dans la revue Foreign Policy. Après cinq ans de misère, vous dirigez une rébellion qui prend le contrôle de la prison et vous exigez votre libération. Les gardiens réagissent en vous coupant l’eau.Devez-vous alors retourner dans votre cellule, en négociant éventuellement des conditions légèrement moins dures ? Ou bien continuez-vous à vous battre pour vous libérer ?» Ce «dilemme du prisonnier» est celui qui se poserait à la Grèce.


Posted 14 Jun 2015 in Blog, Debt, euro, Greece, Libération

I was interviewed about migration for Dutch magazine Vrij Nederland by Marco Visscher

Posted 13 Jun 2015 in Blog, Immigration, Netherlands, Vrij Nederland

Yes, Greece needs reform, but that isn’t the real issue. If the creditors aren’t willing to be reasonable, default – even euro exit – is preferable to debt bondage. My latest column for Foreign Policy

Posted 12 Jun 2015 in Blog, Debt, euro, Foreign Policy, Greece

On 7 June I was interviewed about the crisis in the eurozone, Greece, Germany, the Dutch economy on Buitenhof, a leading political TV programme in the Netherlands. Watch here. Starts at 22nd minute, for 18 minutes

Posted 07 Jun 2015 in Blog, Buitenhof, euro, Germany, Greece, Netherlands

Politically weak and economically in decline, the EU is fearfully turning inwards. It ought to be looking confidently outwards instead. My column for Brussels Times

Posted 04 Jun 2015 in Blog, Brussels Times, Europe, Foreign Policy

Spanish voters are deserting corrupt, incompetent establishment parties. It’s time for a change. My column for Foreign Policy

Posted 30 May 2015 in Blog, Foreign Policy, Politics, Spain

My contribution to the Council on Foreign Relations’ World Economic Update in New York in January was translated into Japanese for Foreign Affairs Japan

Erik Jones reviews European Spring in Survival, the magazine of the IISS

Posted 25 May 2015 in Blog, European Spring, Survival