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Daniel Ben-Ami, author of Ferraris for All, has reviewed Aftershock in the latest Spiked review of books. Among other things he says:

Few writers feel comfortable either with developing a broad view of the global economy or relaying their arguments in accessible terms. Philippe Legrain’s skill at both helps make Aftershock one of the best books of its type.

Legrain has several advantages as an economics writer that make him well suited to the task. In terms of his writing style, the influence of his early job as a writer on international economics for The Economist is clear. As in that newspaper (The Economist prefers not to call itself a magazine), the emphasis in Legrain’s writing is on expressing difficult ideas as simply as possible.

Even more importantly, Legrain recognises that his readership is likely to be anxious about the state of the world: ‘Aftershock is aimed at a global audience, but in particular at people in rich countries who are fearful about the future’, he writes. Much of the thrust of the text is therefore aimed at showing the existence of practical solutions to pressing problems.

The global character of Legrain’s outlook is another central part of his work. He resolutely refuses to take a narrow nationalistic perspective on any question. Instead, his concern is to show how a flourishing of the world economy can benefit humanity as a whole.

Protectionism and curbs on immigration are particularly abhorrent to him. Legrain, whose previous book was on migration, sees both measures, quite rightly, as standing in the way of generating a more prosperous economy for all.

There is always room for debate on exactly which topics a book on the current world economy should cover, but Aftershock tackles many of the key areas. These include the troubles of the financial system, the rise of emerging economies, green technology, and the backlash against Chinese investment. The book ends, unusually in these pessimistic times, with a chapter about embracing progress.

For its global perspective and embracing of progress alone, this book is highly recommended. It is a great starting point for anyone seeking to start grappling with the problems of the world economy.

Posted 10 Aug 2010 in Blog

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