Legrain, Philippe

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LEGRAIN, Philippe

PERSONAL:

Male. Education: London School of Economics, B.S. (honors), 1995, M.S., 1996.

ADDRESSES:

Home—London, England. Agent—Ivan R. Dee, Publisher, 1332 North Halsted Street, Chicago, IL 60622-2694. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Economist and journalist. Independent Economic Analysis (IDEA), new media writer, 1996; SBC Warburg Dillon Read, economic research, 1996-97; The Economist, correspondent 1997-2000; World Trade Organization (WTO), special adviser to the director-general, 2000-01; World Link, editor, 2002; Britain in Europe, chief economist, 2003—.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Economic and Social Research Council scholarship, London School of Economics; Highly Commended, Young Financial Journalist of the Year, Harold Wincott Press Awards, 1999.

WRITINGS:

Open World: The Truth about Globalisation, Abacus (London, England), 2002, published as Open World: The Truth about Globalization, Ivan R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 2004.

Contributor to Financial Times, Wall Street Journal Europe, Times, Guardian, Independent, New Statesman, Prospect, Ecologist, New Republic, Foreign Policy, and Chronicle Review.

SIDELIGHTS:

With a French father and an Estonian-American mother, British-born Philippe Legrain is a strong proponent of globalization. Apart from English, Legrain speaks fluent French, good Spanish, and some Estonian. He is a contributor to a number of well-known publications and has appeared as a guest speaker on BBC Newsnight, Radio 4, American Public Radio, and Bloomberg TV. Legrain's book Open World: The Truth about Globalization, was published as a response to No Logo, a book by anticorporate activist Naomi Klein.

Legrain, former adviser to the director-general of the World Trade Organization (WTO), firmly believes the only way poor nations can become more affluent is through globalization. Open World calls for removal of trade and investment barriers buttressed by advances in communication. Legrain traveled to several countries to gather first-hand data for the book. In Vietnam, he visited a Nike factory and discovered that the workers received higher pay and were happier than workers in a nearby state-owned factory. The book also gave examples of the benefits of globalization in South Korea, which grew wealthy through international exports.

Legrain noted that China's economy grew after the government loosened its trade restrictions. He also believes that China is far less likely to be aggressive toward Taiwan because of its economic need to remain in good political and international standing. In India, he observes, outsourced call centers have clearly boosted regional prosperity. He argues that lost jobs in rich countries, particularly among low-level workers, has as much to do with improved technology as it does with increasing foreign trade. Both of these factors, he argues, ultimately benefit society. Legrain states that rather than widen inequality and poverty gaps between countries, globalization closes the gaps by promoting growth in poorer nations. He claims that inequality reached its zenith in 1980 and, since then, for the first time in 200 years, has decreased. Legrain reports that the World Trade Organization estimates that the removal of all trade barriers combined with trade promotion and reforms in developing countries will bolster the world economy and bring more than 300 million people out of poverty. Legrain also attempts to offset antiglobalization supporters who claim that the high cost of globalization includes lost jobs in developed countries, corporate domination, reduced political independence, and cultural homogenization.

Critics, however, felt that Open World focuses too much on the positive aspects of globalization, ignoring drawbacks in an attempt to present a persuasive argument. In a review for the Times Literary Supplement, Alan Shipman commented, "Legrain underplays the extent to which the control exerted by a small group of rich nations over global finance has done much to arrest Third-World development." Michael Prowse, writing in the New Statesman, noted that Legrain "overstates his case when he claims that there are virtually no costs associated with globalization." A Publishers Weekly reviewer said that while Legrain's arguments for the positive effects of globalization are convincing, he is "less persuasive and less rigorous when downplaying America's predominance in the global culture." On the other hand, Allen Weakland of Booklist said that regardless of some weaknesses, Legrain has written a "well-argued book that should serve as balance to current negative accounts." Thomas J. Brady, writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer, concluded, "Legrain has written a truly fascinating book that demonstrates not only the inevitability of continued globalization but its virtues as well."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

BOOKS

Legrain, Philippe, Open World: The Truth about Globalisation, Abacus (London, England), 2002, published as Open World: The Truth about Globalization, Ivan R. Dee (Chicago, IL), 2004.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, December 15, 2003, Allen Weakland, review of Open World: The Truth about Globalization, p. 709.

Economist, October 12, 2002, Clive Crook, review of Open World, p. 79.

Financial Times, September 11, 2002, Martin Wolf, review of Open World.

New Statesman, November 11, 2002, Michael Prowse, review of Open World, pp. 51-52.

Philadelphia Inquirer, April 4, 2004, Thomas J. Brady, review of Open World, p. 1.

Publishers Weekly, December 8, 2003, review of Open World, p. 58.

Times Literary Supplement, January 17, 2003, Alan Shipman, review of Open World, p. 29.

ONLINE

Philippe Legrain Home Page,http://www.philippelegrain.com/ (July 8, 2004).*