Leading economists have warned economically troubled governments to think very carefully about the ramifications of imposing capital controls on their markets before they decide to adopt them as an antidote to their financial problems. Speaking at an Asia Society seminar yesterday, Lehman Brothers' chief economist for Asia, Russell Jones, said the concept of capital controls had recently gained some 'weighty academic credence' from leading commentators but there were concerns about the long-term consequences. 'At the end of the day it gets down to attracting foreign investment back into the country,' Mr Jones said. He said he had doubts about whether such moves as those adopted by Malaysia would be an effective tool for economic recovery. 'There will be a temptation for countries like Thailand and Indonesia to follow suit,' Mr Jones said. 'For others such as Japan and Korea, to contemplate it would be disastrous. 'For Hong Kong or Singapore it would be tantamount to economic suicide.' Speaking at the same presentation, managing director of Asian economics at Warburg Dillon Read, Simon Ogus, said the use of capital controls as a means of combatting market plundering by speculators was a dangerous development. The Hong Kong Government's recent intervention in the stock and futures markets to stamp out speculative activity was deemed as 'excessive and misguided' by Mr Ogus. He believed that the fact that the Government had suggested an anti-foreigner crusade only served to hide the Government's own inadequacies in dealing with the domestic financial situation.