People have asked me what happened to the Fingleton Invitation. The answer is nothing.
Some months ago I invited Ed Lincoln, a former Tokyo-based economic adviser to the U.S. government, to join me for a public discussion of the Japanese economy. In his capacity as economic adviser to the then U.S. ambassador to Japan Walter Mondale, Ed had been particularly influential in leading the American public to accept that the Japanese economy had somehow lost its mojo after the Tokyo stock market crash of 1990. I have consistently taken the opposite view that, slumping stock and real estate prices notwithstanding, the underlying Japanese economy has done rather well. Indeed, in key ways, particularly in the most rarefied areas of manufacturing, it has raced far ahead of the United States.
Beginning in 1998, I have on several occasions offered to debate the dozen or so leading proponents of the “basket case Japan” thesis. I have had no takers.
Ed would be a particularly relevant interlocutor, and, to cut a long story short, I offered last summer to make a $10,000 donation to his favorite good cause if he would come forward. I mentioned earthquake relief in Tohoku as a particularly appropriate cause. I have not had a reply but my offer is still open.
I have summarized my argument in an article in the January 8th issue of the New York Times Sunday Review. To read it, click here.