Biography

Bill Emmott is an independent writer and consultant on international affairs. He was Editor of The Economist, the world’s leading weekly magazine on current affairs and business, from 1993 until 2006, having worked for that publication since 1980. The author of 13 books, on Japan, Asia, Italy and the 20th century, his latest was “The Fate of the West: The Battle to Save the World’s Most Successful Political Idea”, published in 2017. His next will be “Japan’s Far More Female Future”, to be published first in Japanese by Nikkei in May 2019.

Now he is chairman of The Wake Up Foundation, a charity dedicated to using film and journalism to foster understanding of the challenges facing about the decline of western societies which he co-founded in 2013 with an Italian film-maker, Annalisa Piras; chairman of the board of Trinity College Dublin’s Long Room Hub Arts & Humanities Research Institute; chairman of the Japan Society of the UK; and chairman of the trustees of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

In 2016 the Japanese government awarded him the “Order of the Rising Sun: Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon” for services to UK-Japan relations.

Background

Born in London in 1956 and educated at Latymer Upper School in Hammersmith, Bill studied politics, philosophy and economics at Magdalen College, Oxford in 1975-78, and then moved to Nuffield College to do postgraduate research into the French Communist party’s spell in government in 1944-47.

Before completing that, however, in 1980 he joined The Economist’s Brussels office, writing about EEC affairs and the Benelux countries. In 1982 he became the paper’s economics correspondent in London and the following year moved to Tokyo to cover Japan and South Korea. In mid-1986 he returned to London as the finance editor and in January 1989 he became business affairs editor, responsible for all the paper’s coverage of business, finance and science. He was appointed Editor in March 1993. When he left in March 2006, The Economist’s circulation was almost 1.1m worldwide, having more than doubled in the previous 13 years. (As of 2018, the worldwide circulation had surpassed 1.5m.)

A list of Bill’s books can be found here.

The first he co-wrote with Rupert Pennant-Rea “The Pocket Economist“, part of The Economist series of pocket guides, which was published by Blackwell’s in 1983.

Eight of Bill’s books have been on Japan, with six of those published only in Japanese translation. In 1989 “The Sun Also Sets: the limits to Japan’s economic power”, was a bestseller in Japanese, with more than 300,000 copies sold.

In 2003 he combined history with advocacy in “20-21 Vision: 20th century lessons for the 21st century”.

Rivals: How the Power Struggle between China, India and Japan will Shape our Next Decade“, was published in 2008 and was shortlisted for the Lionel Gelber prize for books on international affairs and for the Duke of Westminster Medal for books on military history.

Then in October 2010, “Forza, Italia: Come ripartire dopo Berlusconi“, was published in October 2010 by Rizzoli in Italian translation only. This was then revised, updated and expanded for English and other markets, under the title “Good Italy, Bad Italy”, published in 2012 by Yale University Press in Britain and America, and by PHP in Japan.

In partnership with Annalisa Piras as director and co-author and him as narrator, they then made a documentary feature film on Italy, “Girlfriend in a Coma”. It was broadcast on BBC Four, Sky Italia, La7, and numerous European TV channels, as well as in public screenings all over the world, and has been seen by more than one-and-a-half million people.

In 2014-15 Annalisa Piras directed, produced and wrote a documentary about the crisis in the European Union, “The Great European Disaster Movie”, for which Bill acted as Executive Producer. The film was broadcast by BBC4, Arte, NHK, SvT, ORF, and many other European broadcasters. The Wake Up Foundation then took non-exclusive educational rights to the film in order to offer it free of charge to anyone wanting to host a debate about the future of Europe, in a project called Wake Up Europe.

Bill writes regular columns on international affairs for La Stampa in Italy, Nikkei Business and Mainichi Shimbun in Japan, and Project Syndicate, and has also written frequently for The Times, Prospect and the Financial Times in Britain.

In 2003, Bill was chosen by a jury of senior Italian journalists as the winner of the “È giornalismo” (“This is journalism”) award, the first time a foreigner had been given this prestigious Italian journalism prize. In 2006-07, Bill received four journalism awards in Britain: a special award from the Wincott Foundation; the “business journalist of the year” award from the London Press Club; the “decade of excellence” award from the World Leadership Forum’s business journalism awards programme; and a “lifetime achievement” award from the Work Foundation. In 2009 he received the Gerald Loeb “lifetime achievement” award, a prestigious American business journalism awards programme organised by the Anderson School of Management at UCLA.

Past roles include chairman of the trustees of the London Library from 2009-15; group economic adviser for Stonehage Fleming, a fund manager, in 2011-15; board director of The Economist Group from 1993 until 2006; non-executive director of Development Consultants International, a Dublin-based company, from 2006-09; an independent director of eAccess, a Japanese mobile telecoms company in 2009-10; chairman of Peerindex, an internet start-up, from 2010-13; Visiting Professor at Shujitsu University in Okayama, Japan in 2012-18; a member of the All Nippon Airways UK advisory panel in 2010-16. He has also been a member of the Executive Committee of the Trilateral Commission.

Bill is now a member of the advisory board of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism; a member of Swiss Re’s Panel of Advisors; a member of the Global Advisory Board of the University of Tokyo; a member of the senior advisory panel of Critical Resource, a consultancy; a board director of EU Observer; a board director of Referendum Facts, which publishes the InFacts website; and a consultant to Lansdowne Partners.

He has honorary degrees from Warwick and City universities in Britain and Northwestern University in America, and is an honorary fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford. He was a Visiting Fellow in Practice at the Blavatnik School of Government in Oxford in 2015-17 and was a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford in 2017-18.

Bill is married to Carol. They live in Dublin and Oxford with their three dogs.