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The Dinwoodie Interview

HE HAS had a ringside seat for one of the world’s great constitutional clashes between Hong Kong is part of China whether we like it or not, and soon he hopes to return permanently from the Far East after almost three decades to his homeland for Scotland’s second push for independence.

His name was blackened when he predicted the Asian economic crisis of 1997, he became seen as a guru when he was proven right, and was forced out of his company when he predicted the world financial crash of 2008.

He is an economist with libertarian views which are often portrayed as right-wing, but is a working class Scot from Renfrewshire proud to have converted, eventually, his late Labour parents to becoming SNP voters. And he is known as Dr Jim, using his PhD handle, not out of vanity but because when he moved company in 1991 his boss was an Australian, born in Maryhill, who was also called Jim Walker and neither wanted to give up Jim in preference to James or Jimmy. So the Scot from Kilbarchan became known instead as “Dr Jim” and the monicker stuck as he became a leading expert on economics in Asia and the wider world.

If you are going to be a libertarian, Kilbarchan is a decent starting point in life as a hotbed of the radical weavers and the uprising of 1820. It was also the birthplace of Mary Barbour, Red Clydesider and leader of the Glasgow rent strike of 1915. Walker’s father was a pattern maker, a skilled woodworker who created models of engineering parts which were then used to create moulds for foundries. His mother worked at the Coats thread mill in nearby Paisley and he recalls a happy upbringing at their council house in the village, where he attended the local primary. He then studied at the John Neilson High School, at that time a senior secondary in Paisley.

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