My pen is not taken away, says Roach

The chief economist of Morgan Stanley rises to be the bankÆs chairman in Asia, but he says he will never stop being an economist.
Morgan Stanley has appointed its chief economist Stephen Roach to be its new chairman in Asia. Relocating to Hong Kong in September, Roach will assume his new role in June, serving as the bankÆs senior representative to governments, regulators, and clients across Asia. Yesterday, Roach shared some of his thoughts over the new appointment.

What is the logic for your promotion from chief economist to chairman in Asia? What will make you a good chairman?
There is a great deal of logic to it. I have spent the better part of the last 10 years really burrowing into all the opportunities in Asia, from a macro point of view and from a global point of view. Doing that, IÆve developed a keen insight into the region, as well as good relationships with government officials, company executives, regulators and so forth. This is just an opportunity to really continue that and do so wearing a different hat. I will continue to analyse the various external and internal forces shaping Asia and making use of the good relationships I have forged here.

Was it a difficult decision to relocate from New York to Asia?
Well, itÆs hard to do global economics sitting in New York and just reading the FT. I realised that a long time ago. I spent much of my life on the road and now is the right time to focus on Asia. You have to be in Asia. But I am not going to just sit around my office in Hong Kong. It is clearly a job that will require me to be on the move, to continue my travels.

When do you think you will arrive in Hong Kong?
I will relocate at some point in September.

Do you plan to spend a lot of time in China and India, as you have been doing in the past?
Absolutely. I was in China six times last year. IÆm sure I will be there a great deal more this year and next year. I will increase the frequency of my travel to India, where I have been going every nine months.

Will you still publish and practice economics or you will completely give up that role?
I will never give up being an economist. ItÆs in my veins. But I will stop being the chief economist and no longer publish my regular thought pieces on the global economy which is now coming out twice a week. I will continue to express my views from time to time. This new role will be a different platform û but I will be expressing my views a great deal less frequently.

Will being chairman of Asia restrict your ability to express your views?
No. I think I have a reputation for being direct, for being independent and for not being afraid to express a point of view û that from time to time might be provocative. I intend to continue to be direct, honest and candid, assessing prospects for the global economy including Asia.

You have testified to Congress quite a bit on China matters. Will you still do that?
I am always happy to help politicians and political leaders in any countries sort through tough and thorny issues in which I am very much involved û such as in the US-China trade relationship, which is a critical relationship for the world to get right. I am very concerned about the track Washington is on and I will continue to use the opportunity to exercise my point of view should they seek my opinion.

Has it been decided who would replace you as a chief economist at Morgan Stanley?
No. ItÆs an ongoing process. I am still going to be the chief economist of Morgan Stanley for another couple of months, and we have a deep bench of talents. This is an ongoing process at this point.

Do you think you will miss the writing process?
I love to write, express my view and I like to speak, and communicate with clients, but you know itÆs a great opportunity and I welcome the chance to take the skills into a different sort of responsibilities. But you will be hearing from me. My pen (or my laptop) has not been taken away.
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