Philippe Legrain

Expertise: Geopolitics, Immigration, International Trade
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Philippe Legrain

Philippe Legrain is a critically acclaimed Political Economist with senior policy experience and a track record of political and economic insight. He specializes in global and European political economy issues, including macro, geopolitics, trade and immigration.

A senior visiting fellow at the London School of Economics’ European Institute, he is the founder of Open Political Economy Network (OPEN), an international think-tank on openness issues, and a columnist for Foreign Policy and Project Syndicate.

Philippe was among the first to diagnose the financial panic that almost destroyed the euro, which led to his engagement as European Commission President José Manuel Barroso’s  independent economic adviser. Previously, his insight into the anti-globalization movement led to his appointment as special adviser to World Trade Organization Director-General Mike Moore.


What do we really know about immigration?

Immigration is one of the most controversial issues these days. Keeping them out. Taking back control. Building that wall. Whether the debate centres on economics or identity, it 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.

Drawing on first-hand reporting, compelling stories and the latest research and evidence from around the world, Philippe Legrain explains how immigration benefits us all in many ways. Immigrants start new businesses, bring different skills and help spark valuable new ideas. They help save lives – including Boris Johnson’s. As key workers, they keep coronavirus-stricken societies going, while young newcomers care – and help pay – for our ageing population.

For sure, learning to live together can be tough. The book also addresses tricky issues such as ‘illegal’ immigration, what immigration entails for national identity, what newcomers need to do to fit in, and how societies ought to adapt. And it suggests new ideas for how to persuade moderate sceptics about the merits of immigration.

If patriotism means wanting the best for your country, we should be welcoming immigrants with open arms. It is time to close the gap between myth and reality – and, in the process, close the gap between ‘Them’ and ‘Us’.

From February 2011 to February 2014, he was principal adviser and head of the analysis team at the Bureau of European Policy Advisers to the president of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso. As such, he provided President Barroso with independent economic advice and led the team which provides him with strategic policy advice.

He has consulted for the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, the Swedish government’s Globalization Council, UNDP and the Asian Development Bank and is a frequent commentator on BBC TV and radio on globalization, migration and European issues.

He was trade and economics correspondent for The Economist and has written for 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, The Chronicle Review and Project Syndicate.

Philippe is the author of five books: Open World: The Truth about Globalization (2002),
Immigrants: Your Country Needs Them (2007), Aftershock: Reshaping the World Economy After the Crisis (2010): European Spring: Why Our Economies and Politics are in a Mess – and How to Put Them Right (2014): Them & Us, How Immigrants and Locals can Thrive Together (2020) which won the Diversity, Inclusion & Equality Award at the Business Book Awards 2021.

Here is the video clip of the award, interesting to hear the judges viewpoints and that the stand out for them was “its ability to present clear solutions which the reader could take forward!”


Global Macro and Political Outlook. Philippe was one of the first to correctly forecast a global coronavirus recession and now he is skeptical about prospects for a V-shaped recovery. Successfully navigating this period of unprecedented uncertainty, volatile markets, perilously high debts, fragile supply chains, accelerated technological disruption, massive state intervention, resurgent nationalism, eurozone tensions, erratic US leadership and geopolitical rivalry requires clear thinking, flexible tools and resilient strategies. Go beyond the headlines and sales patter for key insights about the economic outlook – and the policies and politics that shape it – that are crucial to businesses and markets.  

The Global (or European) Macro and Political Outlook. Trade wars, technological change, the rise of China and the travails of Brexit and the eurozone – we lived through a period of immense economic and political upheaval that was full of risks and opportunities. Go beyond the headlines and sales patter for key insights about the economic outlook – and the policies and politics that shape it – that are crucial to businesses and markets.

The Populist Peril. Brexit, Italy. Why are voters rejecting the established order? How big a threat do populist policies and politics pose to businesses, markets, the EU and even liberal democracy? Can populism be vanquished?

Stakeholder Capitalism. The US Business Roundtable says businesses should advance the interests of customers, employees, society and the planet, not just pursue shareholder value, and the World Economic Forum agrees. What is the business case for stakeholder capitalism? What are the practical obstacles? And how might they be overcome?

The Diversity Dividend. Diversity is about much more than equal opportunities; it can be a key asset for your business or organization, not to mention society as a whole. Find out how having a diverse team can boost your bottom line – and what you need to do to manage the challenges of diversity and make the most of its opportunities.

Philippe’s opening keynote for the Spinoza Foundation was described as a ‘magnificent tour de force’ by Martin Wolf.

He holds a BSc in Economics and an MSc in Politics of the World Economy, both from the London School of Economics.

Philippe is a brilliant and succinct speaker, his content is always up to date to the very the day of his engagement. His delivery through examples and stories making complex insights easy to assimilate.


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