Follow Philippe Legrain on Twitter Follow Philippe Legrain on YouTube Follow Philippe Legrain on Facebook Email me
  • Them and Us: How Immigrants and Locals Can Thrive Together

    Keep “Them” out. Take back control. Build that wall. The heated debate about immigration is often framed as ‘Them’ (bad immigrants) against ‘Us’ (good locals). But immigrants aren’t a burden or a threat – and if we make the right choices we all can thrive together.

    It’s time to close the gap between myth and reality – and, in the process, close the gap between ‘Them’ and ‘Us’. OUT on 15 OCTOBER

  • 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?


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 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. Thanks!

Posted 20 May 2016 in Blog

How will society change after the coronavirus pandemic?

The adoption of digital technologies has advanced in leaps and bounds, but it is still implausible that this spells the end of the office or the demise of business travel, let alone the decline of cities, which may rather become younger and more liveable. Perhaps the biggest question mark is how politicians will respond to post-crisis demands for a fairer society.

Read my latest for Brussels Times.

Posted 23 Jul 2020 in Blog

It’s economically significant and politically beneficial, but it leaves the eurozone’s deeper problems unresolved.

Read my latest for Project Syndicate

Posted 23 Jul 2020 in Blog

Eurozone finance ministers have finally agreed a package of measures to respond to the coronavirus crisis. But in the face of an unprecedented medical and economic emergency, it is inadequate. What the eurozone needs is a large, temporary coronavirus Marshall Plan, funded by common debt that the ECB would buy and hold for the foreseeable future. 

Read my latest for Project Syndicate.

Posted 10 Apr 2020 in Blog

As Europe faces an unprecedented coronavirus crisis that is so far hitting Italy and Spain particularly hard and is straining the EU to breaking point, an exceptional “corona bond” would provide the fiscal firepower to support stricken businesses and workers and demonstrate European solidarity. If not now, when?

Read my latest for Brussels Times

My piece was quoted by Ishaan Tharoor in the Washington Post as follows:

The coronabonds, wrote economist Philippe Legrain, would “give the eurozone greater geopolitical reach and provide greater protection against President Donald Trump’s abuse of the dominance of the US dollar for harmful political ends.” It would also prove that “European solidarity exists,” according to Legrain.

Posted 02 Apr 2020 in Blog

What might the coronavirus crisis entail for the future of globalisation?

Philippe Legrain, founder of international think tank the Open Political Economy Network and a former economic adviser to the president of the European Commission, is not confident the current crisis will lead to any renewed commitment to globalization.

He believes the international response has been much less coordinated compared with that to the global financial crisis, when the G20 came up with an unprecedented rescue package.

“There has been very little international cooperation during this crisis. Most governments have acted unilaterally. Even within the European Union, countries have failed to respond to Italy’s urgent request for medical supplies, although China did,” he said.

“The closure of borders, the restrictions on trade-such as India’s with pharmaceutical exports-and the perception of foreigners as vectors of disease are all creating more national economies and more nationalistic politics.”

Later, I discuss the potential for new forms of globalisation.

“Globalization exists in a political context. In the 19th century, it largely took place within European empires. In the 20th century, it took place through US-backed international institutions, and in the 21st century, it may exist within China-centered institutions such as the BRI,” he said.

Read the piece.

Posted 31 Mar 2020 in Blog

Until recently, most policymakers and investors remained complacent about the potential economic impact of the coronavirus crisis.

Now they realise that it is generating a global shock, which may be sharp—but which most still expect to be short.

But what if the economic disruption has an enduring impact? Could the coronavirus pandemic even be the nail in the coffin for the current era of globalisation?

Read my latest column for Foreign Policy.

It is quoted by Marc Saxer in International Politics and Society.

Posted 12 Mar 2020 in Blog

Read my latest piece for Foreign Policy

Posted 21 Feb 2020 in Blog

Unprecedented uncertainty hangs over international trade. While markets and multinationals are—understandably—fixated on the immediate prospects for trade relations between the US and China, far bigger long-term questions cloud the future. This is often simplistically framed as a binary question: is globalisation set to go into reverse? Or more politically, are the US and China heading for a new Cold War? But in practice, the future pattern of international trade could take many different forms over the next decade or two.

Read my foresight piece for the Oracle Partnership

Posted 11 Feb 2020 in Blog

A new report I co-authored for OPEN with Hosuk Lee-Makiyama explains how AI could help EU institutions become more capable, competent, cost-effective and closer to citizens.

Check it out here.

Posted 11 Feb 2020 in Blog

“The eurozone’s trend rate of growth is very low due to poor productivity and dismal demography, so cyclical downturns easily lead to stagnation,” said Philippe Legrain, visiting senior fellow at the London School of Economics. “In addition, monetary policy can’t do much more, while fiscal stimulus is likely to be too little, too late.”

Read the full piece.

Posted 11 Feb 2020 in Blog

In Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them, economist and financial journalist Philippe Legrain does a thorough job of debunking the myth that “government workers are ever really in a position to adequately assess which workers the economy needs at any given time.” First, because the market’s needs fluctuate so widely and so quickly, and second, the human variable is so unpredictable, with an individual’s academic skills or degree offering only a small clue of what their future employment or societal contributions will be.

Read Toula Drimonis’s piece for Ricochet.

Posted 27 Nov 2019 in Blog

Does the flagging eurozone need a fiscal boost as well as a monetary one? The debate in policy circles is slowly shifting.

I’m quoted right at the start of this excellent analysis piece by Mark John for Reuters.

“There is a shift towards talking about stimulus but there is no dramatic leap forward,” said Philippe Legrain, adviser to the European Commission during the aftermath of Europe’s 2009 sovereign debt crisis and author of the book “European Spring”, a diagnosis of Europe’s economic failings.

“There is no sense of urgency so far … That might happen when the euro zone enters recession.”

Read the full piece.

Posted 24 Sep 2019 in Blog

British democracy was once widely seen as a model for others to follow. But it has now sunk into its deepest crisis in living memory.

At stake is not only whether the UK crashes out of the EU without an exit deal, but also how far a country once famed for stability and moderation descends into political civil war.

Read my latest column for Project Syndicate

Posted 31 Aug 2019 in Blog

My latest for Project Syndicate

Posted 04 Jul 2019 in Blog

Denmark’s Social Democrats won the election there this month on an anti-immigrant platform. So is immigrant bashing a vote winner for Europe’s beleaguered progressives?

Read my latest for Project Syndicate

Posted 18 Jun 2019 in Blog

With the next few months set to be dominated by unseemly haggling over top EU jobs, starting with the presidency of the European Commission, it may feel like business as usual in Brussels. But if you take the longer view, there are good reasons to hope that EU democracy may be evolving in a positive direction.

Read my column for Brussels Times

Posted 18 Jun 2019 in Blog

The European Union is increasingly caught between the United States and China. Until it finds a common strategic purpose, the bloc will struggle to advance its interests and is increasingly likely to fall victim to great-power plays.

Read my latest column for Project Syndicate.

Quoted in the FT

Quoted in Belgium’s L’Echo

Quoted by Voice of America

Quoted in the Daily Mail

Posted 29 Apr 2019 in Blog

I contributed to a symposium published by The International Economy here.

“Populist” is often used as a derogatory label for any popular political view that someone deplores. But although populism can take many forms, it has a specific meaning: populists claim to stand up for “the people” (their supporters) against the elites (their opponents, whom they tend to view as enemies). Most populists are on the far right or the far left, but they need not be: witness Italy’s heterodox Five Star Movement. And the elites they lambast are often (but not always) economically and/or socially liberal.

Some voters have always hated liberalism and openness. But the main reason why populism is on the rise is that this core support has been swelled over the past decade by a broader constituency of voters who are angry and fearful.

While populists don’t have the answers, voters’ rage against the establishment is understandable. The financial crisis and its unduly austere aftermath have discredited elites, who often seem incompetent, self-serving, out of touch, and corrupt. Both bailed-out bankers and politicians have inflicted misery on ordinary people without being held accountable for their mistakes.

Meanwhile, communities that have suffered from economic change (mostly due to automation, not globalization) have often been neglected. No wonder many voters feel the system is rigged against them.

Populists tap into the resentment of people who feel ignored, looked down on, and hard done by—who have lost status or fear they will. Fears about the future include both economic worries that robots, Chinese workers, and immigrants are threatening people’s livelihoods, and cultural ones that white Westerners are losing their privileged status both locally and globally.

Far-left populists tend to target their fire at billionaires and big businesses that abuse their clout to buy political power and screw workers and consumers. But there is a big debate about whether far-right populism—which focuses its hostility on foreigners in general and immigrants in particular—is driven primarily by economic issues or cultural ones.

In practice, these often can’t be neatly separated. In difficult times, distributional cleavages come to the fore— over access to shrivelled public services, for instance— and are often then overlaid with identity clashes. When people lose status as individuals, they often prize their group identity more. In insecure times, some hanker for the perceived security of leadership by a strongman. In times of economic decline, people are more nostalgic for the past. And so on.

Our age of discontent provides rich pickings for opportunists such as Donald Trump (who was previously a Democrat) and Hungary’s Viktor Orban (who was once a liberal). But successful politicians often are opportunistic: witness Emmanuel Macron, France’s self-styled Jupiterian president who earlier stormed to power posing as an anti-establishment outsider.

To defeat the populists, mainstream politicians need to address the economic and cultural insecurities that create a wider constituency for populism in positive and constructive ways. That includes bold economic policies to promote greater opportunity and fairness and unifying cultural narratives such as progressive patriotism.

Posted 29 Apr 2019 in Blog

On ABC RN’s Sunday Extra with Hugh Riminton on 20 April

Listen here.

Posted 20 Apr 2019 in Blog

Despite the huge challenges they face, refugees are the most entrepreneurial migrants in Australia – and are nearly twice as likely to start a business as Australian taxpayers in general.

Read my piece in the Guardian to coincide with the publication of my new study for the Centre for Policy Development and OPEN on refugee entrepreneurship in Australia.

Posted 11 Apr 2019 in Blog