Morgan Stanley chief economist Stephen Roach was named as the bank's new Asia chairman on Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported. He will start work in June and relocate to the region in September. While Roach has neither the Asia-centric background of his predecessor Alasdair Morrison nor the investment-banking experience of his counterparts at rival groups, he brings to the job a contact book crammed with senior government officials and regulators. Following the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98, he began leading investor tours to China and last met with Premier Wen Jiabao as recently as March. His published research in the last few years has focused on the emergence of China and India, globalization, productivity and corporate restructuring. His appointment is seen as part of wider efforts by Morgan Stanley to boost its Asia business that include the return of Wei Christianson as the firm's key China investment banker.