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David Pilling

speaker location icon London, U.K.

Associate Editor & Africa Editor - Financial Times

Author of the award winning books 'The Growth Delusion' and 'Bending Adversity'

Leading authority and commentator on the business and economic landscapes in China, across Asia and globally

David Pilling is an Associate Editor and the Africa Editor of the Financial Times.

As Asia Editor and the FT’s Tokyo Bureau Chief, David became known for his coverage of business, economics and politics in China, India, Japan and across Asia more generally.   He now adds close-up knowledge of Africa, with a particular emphasis on Nigeria and South Africa and some of the continent’s more promising economies from Ethiopia and Rwanda to Kenya. He is also an expert on the fast-developing and geopolitically significant relationship between China and Africa.

With some twenty five years of journalistic experience, fifteen of which were in Asia,  David shares his deep knowledge and insights on economics, politics, culture and development across Asia and the developing world more generally.

David crystallised his experience living and working in Japan in a widely acclaimed book about the country’s social and economic resilience: Bending Adversity: Japan and the Art of Survival. In many ways, Japan has foreshadowed the problems that have beset the west since the 2008 financial crisis and he argues that Japan may have more to teach us than has generally been recognised. In his view, the so-called “lost decades” may not have been quite so lost after all.​

David has had a long and distinguished career at the FT as a foreign correspondent, senior editor, and columnist, starting in 1990 in London on the international desk. From there he was posted to Santiago, Chile in 1993. Between 1994 and 1997 he was based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, before returning to London to become Deputy Editor of the comment and analysis section. Between 1999 and 2002, David was the global pharmaceuticals and biotechnology correspondent, covering topics from mega-pharmaceutical mergers to the scourge of AIDS in Africa and the scientific race to decode the human genome. In 2002, he moved to Japan for a seven-year stint as Tokyo Bureau Chief covering the Koizumi years, growing tensions with China and the burgeoning nationalism that was to lead to the rise of the Shinzo Abe.

In his latest book, ‘The Growth Delusion: Why economists are getting it wrong and what we can do about it’ (2018), David explores the pitfalls of how we measure our economy and how to correct them.  This revelatory and entertaining book has been nominated for the prestigious Orwell Prize for Political writing and has been published in several languages.

David has won several prizes, including for coverage of Japan and China. In both 2011 and 2012, he was named Best Commentator by the Society of Publishers in Asia for his weekly column. He was also named Best Foreign Commentator for 2011 in the Editorial Intelligence Comment Awards for coverage of China, Japan and Pakistan. David regularly contributes features, including for the Weekend FT, and frequently interviews business, political and cultural figures.

David is also an experienced moderator at international conferences, including the FT’s own and at events organised by the World Economic Forum and the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum (APEC).

Speaking topics:

  • Outlooks for China and Asia in general
  • The inadequacies of GDP
  • The Rising Africa narrative
  • Africa’s investment and business prospects

The Growth Delusion: The Wealth and Well-Being of Nations


In The Growth Delusion, author and prize-winning journalist David Pilling explores how economists and their cult of growth have hijacked our policy-making and infiltrated our thinking about what makes societies work. Our policies are geared relentlessly towards increasing our standard measure of growth, Gross Domestic Product. By this yardstick we have never been wealthier or happier. So why doesn’t it feel that way? Why are we living in such fractured times, with global populism on the rise and wealth inequality as stark as ever?


”A rare beast: a book on economics that is well written, accessible and – whisper it – entertaining! Witty, widely travelled and well-informed, David Pilling is an excellent guide to the pitfalls and shortcomings of GDP and a trenchant exponent of the need to move beyond the ‘cult of growth‘ (New Internationalist)

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