August 13th, 2008 10:05 EST
Judyth Piazza chats with Eamonn Fingleton, Author of In the Jaws of the Dragon
A former editor for Forbes and the Financial Times, Eamonn Fingleton has been monitoring East Asian economics since he met China`s supreme leader Deng Xiaoping in 1986 as a member of a top U.S. financial delegation. The following year he predicted the Tokyo banking crash and went on in Blindside, a controversial 1995 analysis that was praised by J.K. Galbraith and Bill Clinton, to show that a heedless America was fast losing its formerly vaunted leadership in advanced manufacturing to Japan.
His 1999 book In Praise of Hard Industries: Why Manufacturing, Not the Information Economy, Is the Key to Future Prosperity anticipated the American Internet stock crash of 2000. (Click to view the Amazon page for the original 1999 edition)
In his 2008 book In the Jaws of the Dragon: America`s Fate in the Coming Era of Chinese Hegemony, he issues a strong challenge to the conventional view among Washington policymakers and think tank analysts that China is converging to Western economic and political forms and attitudes. His books have been read into the U.S. Senate record and named among the ten best business books of the year by Business Week and Amazon.com.
For a detailed biographical note and contact information, see below.
Eamonn Fingleton: Biographical Note
Eamonn Fingleton is the author most recently of In the Jaws of the Dragon: America`s Fate in the Coming Era of Chinese Hegemony (New York: Thomas Dunne Books, 2008). Based on more than two decades of on-the-spot observation of East Asian economic and political developments, the book challenges the conventional view that as living standards rise, China will become increasingly Western in its politics and economics. China is instead converging to the East Asian econo-political model, a much misunderstood hybrid system that is fundamentally incompatible with Western traditions and values. Pioneered by Japan after World War II and now widely espoused throughout the Confucian world, this model presages massive problems for today`s Western-defined world order that -- thanks to the foreign trade lobby`s success in fostering extreme pro-globalism attitudes in the American press and in Washington -- have hitherto been largely swept under the carpet in American discussions.
Yet all the evidence is that when the Western and East Asian systems are pitted in head to head competition, the East Asian one proves decisively more effective in creating trade surpluses and building national economic power -- while Western nations that pursue free trade find themselves increasingly hollowed out and more and more dependent on foreign creditors.
Fingleton is also the author of In Praise of Hard Industries: Why Manufacturing, Not the Information Economy, Is the Key to Future Prosperity. Published by Houghton Mifflin in September 1999, this presented a point by point rebuttal of the exaggerated claims then being made for the New Economy. The book was soon vindicated when the Wall Street dot.com bubble burst in the spring of 2000. The book was named one of the ten best business books of 1999 by Amazon.com Business Editor Harry C. Edwards. It was also named one of the Ten Books that Matter by The Industry Standard, a now defunct magazine for Internet professionals. It has been translated into Japanese and Korean. An updated edition of Hard Industries, with a new introduction, was published by Nation Books in New York under the title Unsustainable: How Economic Dogma Is Destroying American Prosperity in 2003.
Fingleton`s earlier book, Blindside: Why Japan Is Still on Track to Overtake the U.S. by the Year 2000, was named one of the Ten Best Business Books of 1995 by Business Week. Excerpted in both Foreign Affairs and Fortune, Blindside was published in French and Japanese as well as in several English-language editions and was described as "a good book" by President Bill Clinton in a letter to Senator Fritz Hollings in July of 1995 (click here to view that letter http://126.96.36.199/pdf/hollings-letter.pdf). Blindside showed that, behind a cloak of absurdly exaggerated economic dysfunction, the Japanese economic system in the 1990s quietly surpassed the United States in the most advanced and geopolitically important areas of manufacturing. Fingleton predicted that this would power a sharply contrasting trend in the two nations trade performances. While for a time the Blindside argument was generally ridiculed by those who had not read the book, his point that Japanese leaders greatly exaggerated the Tokyo financial problems as a way of diverting American attention from Japan`s rising trade surpluses has now become generally accepted among independent experts. Working mainly through cooperative foreign investment analysts in Tokyo, these leaders systematically filled the press with talk of an imminent Japanese economic collapse. Fingleton identified five top-rated analysts -- Peter Tasker, Alexander Kinmont, Kenneth Courtis, Robert Feldman, and Jesper Koll -- as particularly influential in this initiative and in 1999 invited each of them to debate the "lost decade" story in public. All five refused.
Fingleton maintains that it has become clear in retrospect that it was the United States, not Japan, that became an economic basket case in the 1990s. He points out that, with less than half of America`s population, Japan passed the United States in net manufacturing added value during the "lost decade" and as of 2007 its exports to China had risen to more than twice those of the United States. Between 1989 and 2007, Japan`s current account surpluses had increased nearly fourfold. By contrast in the same period America`s current account deficit had ballooned nearly sevenfold .
Fingleton was born in Ireland in 1948 and won a scholarship to Trinity College Dublin, where he studied economics and mathematics and edited the student newspaper. On graduating in 1970, he joined the Irish Independent, Ireland`s largest newspaper, as economics reporter. In 1973 he moved to London, working first as a reporter for Investors Guardian and later as personal finance editor of the Financial Times. In 1979 he was selected by Sir James Goldsmith to join a "dream team" of top Fleet Street journalists who launched Now! magazine. With Tom Tickell, he co-authored the Penguin Money Book (London: Penguin Books, 1981). He moved to New York as an associate editor for Forbes magazine in 1981.
In 1985 he was posted to Tokyo as East Asia bureau chief for Euromoney. He subsequently reported from most of East Asia`s major economies and, as a member of a New York Stock Exchange delegation, met China`s supreme leader Deng Xiaoping at Beijing`s Great Hall of the People in 1986. He quickly established a reputation for the depth of his understanding of the East Asian economic system and for boldly prescient judgments. Beginning in September 1987 (in an article billed on Euromoney`s cover as "Why the Japanese Banks are Shaky" -- click on this link to read http://188.8.131.52/pdf/euromoney-0987a.pdf ), he issued a series of highly prescient forecasts of the Japanese banks` debt problems of the early 1990s, the Japanese real estate implosion, and the Tokyo stock market crash.
His commentaries on East Asian economics and business have been published in the Atlantic, the New York Times, the Harvard Business Review, Challenge, the Washington Post, Time, GQ, Technology Review, and the New Republic. He has been a contributor to or an interviewee on many broadcast media, including CNBC, CNN, National Public Radio, the BBC, RTE, and Sky News. He has been the featured interviewee on major broadcast programs, most notably the BBC`s famous Jimmy Young Show in 1976 and National Public Radio`s Talk of the Nation program in 1999.
He has interviewed many of the world`s most prominent news sources " not just quotable business figures such as Rupert Murdoch, Lou Gerstner, Warren Buffett, Sanford Weill, Peter Lynch, and Donald Trump but fundamental economic thinkers such as Robert Solow, Paul Samuelson, James Tobin, Milton Friedman, Friedrich von Hayek, and C. Northcote Parkinson. His work has been read into the record of the U.S. Senate by Senator Ernest F. Hollings and has been commended by, among others, James Fallows, Pat Choate, John Kenneth Galbraith, Ralph Nader, Roger Milliken, Robert Heller, and Chalmers Johnson.
His writing on accounting matters at Forbes won him the American accounting profession`s 1983 award for excellence in financial writing. He is listed in Marquis Who`s Who in the World and has testified before the United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission. His authority as one of the West`s foremost experts on the East Asian economic system has been acknowledged by the U.S. Business and Industry Council, which in 2001 presented him with its American values award for his work on Blindside and In Praise of Hard Industries.
His first wife was his Trinity College Dublin contemporary, the late Mary McCutchan. In common with the writer Mary Kenny, the gay rights activist Nell McCafferty, and the future President of Ireland Mary Robinson, Mary McCutchan was a founder of the Irish women`s movement. An award-winning cookery writer, she went on to become an editor at a major British woman`s magazine. She and their twins Tara and Andrew died in a car accident in London in 1974.
In 1988, Fingleton married Yasuko Amako, a Japanese businesswoman. Educated at the Gakushuin series of schools in Tokyo, Yasuko headed Japan`s American Field Service delegation to the United States in 1963. Her Tokyo-based mail order distribution company specializes in importing European and American luxury goods.
Address: Aoyama NK Building 2F, Minami Aoyama 4-3-24
Telephone: (81 3) 5770 5087 or 5476 8727
Fax: (81 3) 5770 5088