Fingleton, Eamonn 1948-
Fingleton, Eamonn 1948-
PERSONAL: First name is pronounced “Ay-mon”; born August 19, 1948, in Malin, Ireland; son of Simon Edward and Marian Fingleton; married Mary Isabel Mc-Cutchan (died December 5, 1970); married Yasuko Amako, April 22, 1988; children: (first marriage) Tara and Andrew (twins; both deceased). Education: Trinity College, Dublin, degree, 1970. Hobbies and other interests: Music, golf.
CAREER: Financial Times, London, England, personal finance editor, 1978-79; Now! (magazine), London, deputy business editor, 1979-81; Forbes, New York, NY, associate editor, 1981-83; Merrill Lynch Market Letter, New York, NY, senior financial editor, 1983-84; Euromoney, Tokyo, Japan, deputy editor and Tokyo editor, 1985-89; freelance writer, economic commentator, and public speaker, 1989—.
MEMBER: Overseas Press Club of America, Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan.
AWARDS, HONORS: Award for excellence in financial writing, New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants, 1983, for the article “Capital Offense”; citation among ten best business books of 1995, Business Week, for Blindside: Why Japan Is Still on Track to Overtake the U.S. by the Year 2000.
Making the Most of Your Money, Futura (London, England), 1977.
(With Tom Tickell) The Penguin Money Book, Penguin Books (London, England), 1981.
Blindside: Why Japan Is Still on Track to Overtake the U.S. by the Year 2000, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1995.
In Praise of Hard Industries: Why Manufacturing, Not the Information Economy, Is the Key to Future Prosperity, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1999, revised edition with new introduction published as Unsustainable: How Economic Dogma Is Destroying American Prosperity, Nation Books (New York, NY), 2003.
In the Jaws of the Dragon: America’s Fate in the Comning Era of Chinese Hegemony, Thomas Dunne Books (New York, NY), 2008.
Contributor to periodicals, including Atlantic Monthly, Challenge, American Prospect, Harvard Business Review, Foreign Affairs, New York Times, Washington Post, Fortune, Time, Technology Review, and New Republic. Editor, Unsustainable.org, 2001—.
Fingleton’s books have been published in Japanese, French, and Korean.
SIDELIGHTS: Eamonn Fingleton told CA: “In common with most Western economic commentators, I began my career as a strong advocate of globalism. As far back as my first year at university in 1965, I had been convinced by David Ricardo’s theory of comparative advantage—the cornerstone of the argument for globalism. It was only after I moved to East Asia in the mid-1980s that I began to question the universality of the theory, and now, after more than two decades on the spot, I know that major East Asian nations are unlikely ever to open their markets in a Western sense. Unbeknownst to Western commentators and policymakers, East Asian econo-political culture is fundamentally incompatible with that of the Judeo-Christian West, and thus glib Western talk that East Asia is converging to Western values is nonsense. That all this is not better understood reflects in significant measure the fact that East Asian officials go to extraordinary lengths to mislead the West about their trade policies and much else. An understanding of how superficial and flimsy are the West’s sources of information on the East has encouraged me repeatedly to challenge the general Western consensus on key econo-political issues. Thus in a major article soon after I arrived in Tokyo, in 1987 I rejected the widespread view among Western commentators and bankers that the Japanese financial boom would go on indefinitely. By the same token, in In Praise of Hard Industries: Why Manufacturing, Not the Information Economy, Is the Key to Future Prosperity in 1999, I predicted the coming implosion of America’s ‘New Economy’ boom.
“Again in 2003 I sharply diverged from the consensus when, in a commentary on the imminent American invasion of Iraq, I predicted that a post-Saddam Iraq would not play out like a defeated Japan in the 1940s.
“My boldest forecast has undoubtedly been the idea expressed most notably in the subtitle of Blindside: Why Japan Is Still on Track to Overtake the U.S. by the Year 2000. As the 1990s wore on, this prediction came to seem more and more misguided, but in reality the idea that America had stunningly turned the tables on Japan in international competitiveness was a media illusion. As I consistently pointed out, a nation’s competitiveness depends largely on its prowess in advanced manufacturing and, on that measure, Japan went from strength to strength in the 1990s, even as the United States suffered a total collapse.
“The most striking way that Japan’s success has been manifested is in its trade with other nations. Take China. China now imports more than twice as much from Japan, whose population is less than 130 million, as from the United States, whose population is more than 300 million. The reason is not cheap labor: factory wages are actually higher in Japan than in the United States. Given that the United States claims to enjoy a political advantage in selling to the Chinese, why do they buy so much more from Japan? The answer in large measure is because they have little choice. The point is that Japan is now the major source—and very often the only source—of countless highly advanced manufactured products that China cannot make for itself, and without which China’s export industries would grind to a halt. In truth Japan has established hundreds of ‘chokeholds’—effective world monopolies—in the production of geopolitically crucial goods such as precision machine tools, high-tech components, and advanced materials. These are the sort of products that, in the 1950s and 1960s, were dominated by American manufacturers.
“What we saw in the 1990s was a sea change, in which rapidly rising trade deficits have become built into America’s economic structure. While for a time this change was covered up by the Washington foreign trade lobby and its allies in America’s largely super-globalist press, the dire implications of America’s dependence on foreign borrowing are now becoming unmistakably obvious. Basically the only thing that has kept the American dollar from total collapse in recent years has been that East Asian governments, most notably those of China and Japan, have established a financial heart-lung machine to keep the American economy ticking over. China and Japan can well afford to fund America’s spiraling liabilities because—virtually unnoticed by the American press—their trade surpluses have continued to soar. By contrast, America’s current account deficit ballooned sixfold in the same period.
“I am not alone in believing that American trade policy is headed for a train wreck. Among key observers who have shared my opinion, many have been generous in supporting my work.”
A Publishers Weekly reviewer called Blindside a “provocative and informed analysis.” Adam Smith, writing in the New York Times Book Review, noted that Fingleton “sees the real [financial] problem as American individualism … which enables the Japanese to exploit us and buy us through their high-priced Washington lobbies.” Robert Neff, a review for Business Week, called the book “prodigiously researched and engagingly argued.” Neff added that Fingleton’s book is a “startling, fresh take on the world’s second-largest economy” and is “well worth absorbing.”
James K. Galbraith wrote in the New York Times that In Praise of Hard Industries is “provocative.” He considered Fingleton “right on a basic fact,” that “manufacturing is and will remain the central economic activity in world trade.” Patricia Panchak, a reviewer and interviewer in Industry Week, noted that Fingleton once more “waved the caution flag” and considered the “message worthy of manufacturing executives’ attention.” A Publishers Weekly reviewer stated that Fingleton’s “sobering report deserves close scrutiny by CEOs, labor leaders and policy makers.”
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, February 15, 1995, David Rouse, review of Blindside: Why Japan Is Still on Track to Overtake the U.S. by the Year 2000, p. 1042; September 15, 1999, Gilbert Taylor, review of In Praise of Hard Industries: Why Manufacturing, Not the Information Economy, Is the Key to Future Prosperity, p. 201.
Business Week, April 10, 1995, Robert Neff, review of Blindside, p. 19.
Industry Week, October 18, 1999, Patricia Panchak, “Fate of a Nation,” p. 90.
International Labor Review, January, 2001, Duncan Campbell, review of In Praise of Hard Industries, p. 215.
International Review of Applied Economics, John Grieve Smith, review of In Praise of Hard Industries, p. 229.
Le Monde, May 12, 1995, Phillipe Pons, review of Blindside, p. 1.
Library Journal, August, 1999, Dale E. Farris, review of In Praise of Hard Industries, p. 108.
New York Times Book Review, March 19, 1995, Adam Smith, “Japan Inc. Is Still in Business,” p. 6; September 12, 1999, James K. Galbraith, review of In Praise of Hard Industries, p. 17.
Publishers Weekly, January 16, 1995, review of Blindside, p. 445; August 2, 1999, review of In Praise of Hard Industries, p. 65.
Wall Street Journal, September 20, 1999, Todd G. Bucholz, review of In Praise of Hard Industries, p. A26.