A Donegal Town man who won a scholarship to Trinity College Dublin in the mi- sixties and later went on to edit both Forbes Magazine and the Financial Times has spoken out about the effects of the tragic Japenese earthquake and the effects on the global economy.
Eamonn Fingleton was born in 1948 and was the son of the National Bank manager Simon and his wife Marion who lived above the bank on The Diamond in Donegal Town.
Eamonn was one of four boys and one girl and the author of this article remembers many’s a fond day playing around the bank vaults when the large brown doors closed to the public. The bank was very much a family home in those early days.
The more studious of the family, Eamonn won a scholarship to Trinity College Dublin, where he studied economics and mathematics and edited the student newspaper, Trinity News.
On graduating in 1970, he joined the Irish Independent, Ireland’s largest newspaper, as economics reporter and later in 1973 he moved to London, working first as a reporter for Investors Guardian and later as personal finance editor of the Financial Times. He moved to New York as an associate editor for Forbes magazine in 1981.
Eamonn met his first wife in Trinity College, 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.
However tragedy struck the Fingleton family when Mary and their twins Tara and Andrew died in a car accident outside London in 1974.
Eamonn later moved to Japan and married Yasuko Amako, a Japanese businesswoman and is now regarded as one of the top economists in the world with a deep insight into both the Japanese and Chinese economies.
In an article published last week Fingleton predicted that the effect of the ongoing disaster in Japan will have a much bigger impact on global affairs than previous incidents.
He said: “From a perspective Japan experienced a piece of luck — if one can such a word at time when so many lives have been devastated — is that Tohoku, the northern region worst hit in the disaster, is, by Japanese standards, something of an underpopulated backwater.
“It is quite agricultural, its economy famous mainly for such commodities as rice and peaches. It is also known for fishing villages and tourist attractions, and its major city, Sendai, is an educational center, boasting no less than half a dozen significant universities. “Had an earthquake this big struck close to Tokyo or Japan’s other megalopolis, Osaka, the cost would have been many times greater, not only in lives but in economic dislocation and damage to Japan’s industrial backbone.
“Even so, the industrial impact this time is likely to be far greater than in the past earthquakes. Last week’s destruction was greatly exacerbated by one of the biggest tsunamis in Japanese history, which destroyed everything in its path.
“Moreover, industry has changed dramatically in the last two decades. Technological progress and globalization have both tended to encourage increasingly specialized production.
“In a world where national markets are no longer protected, the toughest competitors with the newest production processes, as well as the most patient shareholders and bankers have tended to win — while others fall by the wayside, unable to finance the move to the next stage of technology.” he concluded.