Lord Patten of Barnes, last governor of Hong Kong and author of East and West (1999) and First Confession: A Sort of Memoir (2017) has commented on Architect of Prosperity:
“Not before time we now have a fascinating book on one of those who helped create Hong Kong’s thriving economy. Cowperthwaite was a believer in free market economics well before this idea became popular again. Hong Kong should be grateful to him.”
Diane Coyle, professor of economics at the University of Manchester and author of The Economics of Enough (2011) and GDP: A Brief but Affectionate History (2014) has commented on Architect of Prosperity
“There are figures in history who deserve to be far better known and Sir John Cowperthwaite is one of those. Neil Monnery’s account of the way he shaped Hong Kong into a dynamic and successful economy now far more prosperous than its colonial ruler, Britain, is all the more fascinating in the light of the current debate about what drives economic development. Policy makers today can learn a lot from the focus and the willingness to ignore the conventional wisdom of the time demonstrated by Cowperthwaite and his colleagues.”
VOX, the CEPR policy portal, carries an article today about Hong Kong entitled “Hong Kong: A two-stage economic experiment.”
In it Neil Monnery highlights how post-war Hong Kong has delivered one of the most dramatic improvements in living standards in history. He assesses the contribution of one key official – finance minister Sir John Cowperthwaite – whose laissez-faire approach of ‘positive non-interventionism’, much admired by Milton Friedman, underpinned that success.
It also explores, 20 years on from the handover to China, whether a second stage of the Hong Kong economic experiment might be in progress, perhaps leading to faltering freedom and faltering growth.
The London School of Economics Business Review carried an article today by Neil Monnery about Sir John Cowperthwaite’s aversion to collecting GDP data for Hong Kong.
Titled “Hong Kong’s postwar transformation shows how fewer data can sometimes boost growth” the article describes how Cowperthwaite frustrated any attempts to collect such data, arguing that such information would lead to ill-advised intervention in the economy. He argued that “the availability of such figures might lead, by a reversal of cause and effect, to policies designed to have a direct effect on the economy. I would myself deplore this.”
Asked in retirement what the key thing that poor countries could do to improve their growth. He replied: “they should abolish the office of national statistics.”
Eamonn Butler of the Adam Smith Institute wrote about Architect of Prosperity on the ASI blog
Today sees the UK launch of a new book about Sir John Cowperthwaite. In “Architect of Prosperity: Sir John Cowperthwaite and the making of Hong Kong” Neil Monnery argues that Sir John was the key figure in setting the economic policies that Hong Kong adopted after World War 2. He claims that these policies enabled Hong Kong’s remarkable economic growth between 1945 and today.
The book is published by London Publishing Partnership
Neil Monnery described how Sir John Cowperthwaite might approach life outside the EU. His formula for economic growth would likely be rather different than the current government’s.