“Grave New World: The end of globalisation and the return of economic conflict.”

Held on Monday, July 17, 12.30-2.15pm


  • Stephen King (HSBC)

  • Martin Sandbu (FT)

  • Geoff Tily (TUC)



At the end of May, Stephen King – formerly chief economist at HSBC and now senior economic advisor – published an important new book, focused on the unravelling of the international consensus that globalisation is inevitable, that economic interdependence is making us all happier as well as richer, and that political and economic openness is a one-way street. It ain’t.

Although bearers of the liberal torch (not least at the FT) have pointed to the defeat of Wilders and Macron’s victory as evidence that the tide may have turned, King’s pessimism about our economic future – and not just our economic future; his concerns also cover the broader future of Western society – is part of a new zeitgeist. Bill Emmott and Graham Allison both have books out, pushing broadly the same line; and David Goodhart’s division of ‘anywheres’ and ‘somewheres’ reflects the same concerns. After all, Trumpists and Corbynistas have a lot more in common than either would like to admit.

Maybe this is just the usual liberal breast-beating – but maybe it is a lot more. As Stephen said in an interview for his book, “what is economically desirable doesn’t always coincide with the choices societies make”. If we are really on the cusp of a decision to ditch globalisation, the implications for global finance are profound. We are comfortable (perhaps too comfortable) with Davos; we may be a lot less comfortable with Detroit. Or Dagenham.

We are, therefore, delighted that Stephen has agreed to come and talk about the main arguments he has put forward in his book (of which signed copies will be available). I am also delighted that we have two distinguished panellists committed (I hope) to giving him a hard time:

  • Martin Sandbu is an economics editorial writer at the FT, where he focuses on the intersection of economics, politics and ethics. He is also a senior advisor to the Earth Institute at Columbia, and was the founding chairman of Norway’s Liberalt Laboratorium. He read PPE at Balliol, but made up for it with a PhD from Harvard.
  • Geoff Tily has been the TUC’s senior economist since 2014, following a long career in the government’s economics and statistical services (including four years at the Treasury). He is the author of Keynes Betrayed, and has a PhD from UCL.

This is a bigger (and arguably more important) issue than we usually cover. But it is enormously significant – and (I hope) will set you thinking as you lie on the beach this summer. If you (or a colleague) would like to join us for what is bound to be a lively discussion, please let us know by calling 0207 621 1056 or emailing alex@csfi.org. As usual, wine and sandwiches will be provided.

Sincerely yours,

Andrew Hilton