Who Joe Studwell?

Hello. I am an author, journalist, public speaker and occasional university teacher; I am also doing a mid-career PhD at Cambridge university in the UK. I am based much of the time in Cambridge, and do most of my research in east Asia. In the 2000s I restored and lived in a home in a still unspoiled area of central Italy (the photo at the top of the page is a view from the house).

My books are The China Dream (2002, about the 1990s foreign investment gold rush in China), Asian Godfathers (2007, about developmental failure in south-east Asia) and How Asia Works (2013, an explication of economic development across the east Asian region). How Asia Works has its own site where reviews and other material specifically related to the book will be posted as publication in different markets rolls out between March and July 2013. ‘Highlights’ (should there be any) will appear on this blog.

To coincide with the launch of How Asia Works I am attempting to bring some greater coherence to this blog’s coverage of my disparate interests — the major economies of East Asia, Britain, Italy, and the United States, political economy, financial systems, the failings of modern economics, institutional development — by posting around the central theme of ‘development’. This encompasses not only the development of poor countries, but the development of rich ones as well. I will endeavour to avoid postings that do not fit with this already wide-ranging theme. None the less, few people will want to read everything on this blog and postings are filed under Category buttons with the aim of allowing you to cut out stuff you do not want.

The blog settings allow for the posting of comments. Frankly, I authorise very few comments that are sent because, while they are almost always complementary, they don’t add to what has already been written (plus, it involves pressing buttons). If you want your comment posted, please say something new and useful (even if it is negative and critical). Also, note that while I will endeavour not to post comments that are unsubstantiated or potentially libelous, I cannot and do not take responsibility for anything other than my own postings to this site.

Contacting me: you can use the Comments function, because the comment will not be published unless I authorise it.

Meanwhile, and entirely separately, our move to Cambridge necessitates the sale of our rather beautiful properties in Italy. Take a look here.

14 Responses to “Who Joe Studwell?”

  1. John M Says:

    Dear Mr Studwell

    Just finished reading ‘Asian Godfathers’ and I must say I enjoyed it very much: fascinating subject, well researched and well written. The day after I finished it I noticed a full page ad in the FT in which the YTL Group congratulates Francis Yeoh, excuses me, congratulates Tan Sri (DR) Francis Yeoh, for having been awarded the ‘2010 Oslo Business for Peace Award’. The ad contained an excerpt from Yeoh’s acceptance speech, in which he said ‘we desperately need good governance, the rule of law and transparent regulatory frameworks … to rebuild trust and regain moral integrity’. Very true, but also rather cynical to hear this from a leading oligarch…

    Joe says: Francis is a seriously charming guy, and even funny, but if I wanted to melt some butter I’m not sure I would put it in his mouth.

  2. Monima O'Connor Says:

    Hi Joe
    Since your tremendous work on China Dream, there’s been little follow up since 2005.. Having also lived there for almost 5 years in the 1990s and working for JP Morgan (in Hongkong and not the mainland).

    A fresh view of how you see things would be greatly appreciated.

    Joe says: You can get a copy of my own critique of that book in the China Dream Revisited article via the Uploads / Downloads tab on the home page. There will be more on China in the new book, How Asia Works.

  3. alex lee Says:

    Hi Joe,

    I’m just finishing your Asian Godfathers. It’s really interesting to read the ‘inside stories’ of how these tycoons actually operate. I’m from Malaysia but yet I admit many of us here do not know the full story.

    It’s rather unfortunate that the book ends in 2007, because, as I’m sure you know, in 2008 Malaysia had a watershed general election where the Opposition won landslide victories. Fast forward to today – 8 July 2011. Tomorrow, there may be a massive rally in our capital to demand for fair and transparent elections. If you happen to be here, perhaps you can see with your own eyes the changing political landscape of this country.

    TQ.

    alex

    Joe says: your optimism is refreshing. I wished I shared it.

  4. pat Says:

    Hi Joe –

    I read Asian Godfathers in a day. Fantastic book. I hope your blog is still updated.

    About that Hutch special dividend of $4 per shr – I seem to recall a crusty old family friend getting that divvy and buying more Hutch shares on the cheap some months later (after he punted some of his payout in one of Stan’s establishments).

    I don’t recall the pref shares being traded actively. Didn’t The Bank continue to own a bunch after the selling the 90MM common to K.S.? I am guessing / quite sure he got the div on the common though I trust your research when you say in the book the div was only paid on the prefs. Thoughts? Is my old age deceiving me?

    Also, was Simon Murray’s £2,000 salary considered high back in ’73? I gather he was a middle-tier manager then. What would the managing director / taipan and/or chairmen of a major hong have been earning in those days? Always wondered about it…

    PG

  5. Lorenzo Paolo Says:

    Dear Joe Studwell,

    I went to Haikou for a week in October 1992, to promote a thoroughbred racing fantasy that was causing the vice governor’s eye to twinkle, and on the basis of which my partner and I became overnight ‘old china hands’. Went so far as to run an ad in the WSJ, when I got back (horse racing was shot down immediately), offering our services as experts on SEZ’s. Your “Frenzy” chapter was a soothing massage to many memories from those early 90’s gold rush days, watching the corporate honchos falling all over themselves trying to work out an entrée, but mostly cooling their heels at the Regent or the like in Hong Kong. I am so curious how you read the tea leaves on China’s current economic predicament.

    Your book was great – and I’m searching the bookshops now, here in Manila, for Asian Godfathers. Best regards, Lorenzo

  6. Richard Jeffery Says:

    Hello Joe,
    Congratulations on your book, Asian Godfathers. I purchased it mainly to get more info on Vincent Tan, and the reason for my interest is that he has just purchased the Welsh football club I support, Cardiff City.

    I would be very interested on your ‘take’ on why he has bought into a UK football team, and would you want him buying into a sports team that you support? There has been a lot of opposition to him from supporters, particularly his plans to completely rebrand the club, taking away its historical ion the Bluebird and our traditional colour blue to red because ‘its a lucky colour and more marketable in Asia.

    Is it really because he just likes football?

    Many thanks and regards

    • joestudwell Says:

      I think that buying football clubs is just the pastime du jour of the tycoon fraternity. Malaysian Tony Fernandez of Air Asia already has QPR and Vincent may be emulating him. Thaksin was in the soccer game. The Russians do it. The Middle Eastern boys. Ordinary Malaysians are heavily into premiership football but I never heard of Vincent being interested. I may be wrong though. There are, as I remember, one or two bits of sports paraphernalia around his office. Sorry I can’t help more on this. Joe

  7. Satish K Batta Says:

    Hi Mr. Studwell,
    I just read the review on ” How Asia Works’. Not only the various countries have managed well their economies using a different method than the occidentals. Some of the countries also have managed to nurture Democracy as well, Where they had no system of democracy. Point being that India and Pakistan got independence from Britain in 1947. India broke up the big landholdings of Raja and Nawabs soon after and Pakistan did not. This in turn lead for the small landholders to take care of their land and be interested more in their surroundings and protecting their interest and this I believe led to democracy in India and dictatorship in Pakistan.

  8. Derek YU Says:

    Hello, this is Derek YU, a graduate from National Taiwan U. Much admire your works, especially Asian Godfathers. I wonder if you have arranged “How Asia Works” to be published in Chinese. I’ve done French/English books translation into traditional Chinese and would like to recommend myself to be your translator. Please advise.

    Many thanks.

  9. Peter Says:

    Mr Studwell, I live in Kuala Lumpur and would like to get you to sign your book. Will you be visiting Kuala Lumpur anytime?

    • joestudwell Says:

      Hopefully in KL later in the year, likely September or October. Speaking dates will be posted on the site.

  10. sexandgolf Says:

    Asian Godfathers.

    it was indeed a well researched book, I have the paperback and will be getting the hardcover for keep. Having work with certain Indonesian tycoons families and cronies as one of their many financial adviser, I was suffocated with secret after secret and I always lament what a bad lie of meritocracy my Singapore government sell to it’s citizens. Such hypocrisy!

    It will be great to have you autographed my book if you are ever in Singapore. Please do update your fans!

    • joestudwell Says:

      I hope to be in Singapore in October. If I am, any public speaking events will be indicated on the EVENTS bar on the right side of this blog.

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