RETIRING Financial Secretary Sir Hamish Macleod bade farewell to Hong Kong yesterday confident that the territory's sluggish economy will regain its sparkle within the next three to four months. At 55, Sir Hamish is taking early retirement to make way for Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, who becomes the first local Chinese to hold the post. Despite continued uncertainty in the run-up to 1997, Sir Hamish was optimistic any 'feel-bad' sentiments would not linger. 'I wouldn't be surprised if, in a few months' time, the economy is up again,' he said. The Government has just revised this year's gross domestic product (GDP) estimate from 5.5 to five per cent, blaming a drop in consumption for the downturn. But arguing there were 'rational factors' causing the economic slow-down such as high interest rates and pre-1997 jitters, Sir Hamish said it was important not to be influenced by 'irrational' elements, such as fears that the Hong Kong dollar would be vulnerable to currency speculation because of its peg with the US dollar. 'There's the danger of over-reactingto economic statistics. Unemployment is one, though I'm not saying that doesn't matter. But we need to look at other figures too to get a balanced picture. People tend to focus on the down-side,' he said. 'If you look back, the period between an upturn and a downturn can be short. I've seen things change in three to four months,' he said. Sir Hamish plans to retire to Edinburgh, play tennis and keep himself busy with a few non-executive directorships, but he was careful to stress they would not be Hong Kong companies.