Padraic Fallon, 1946-2012
Padraic Fallon died on Saturday night, age 66. The news came as a shock to me, not least because I was pretty sure that Fallon was 66 years old back in 1995, when I first met him. Euromoney, naturally, is the place to turn for a characteristically warm and spicy remembrance, but you can be sure that across London — and large swaths of Ireland, too — there are thousands more such remembrances being retold tonight, always with an alcoholic accompaniment.
It’s rare to find an English financial journalist who hasn’t intersected with Padraic at some point. (He’s one of those men known universally by their first names; one of the pleasures of working for Euromoney was listening to bankers mangle the pronunciation of “Padraic” while affecting a close friendship with the man.) Thousands of us went through the legendary Euromoney Publications graduate-trainee scheme, where the first thing we were told to do was to read his famous, and quite intimidating, style guide. And then, for those of us who worked on Euromoney magazine, there were the occasional editorial meetings chaired by the man himself in the company boardroom. The first words Padraic ever spoke to me were at one of those meetings. I remember those words to this day: “Are you wearing an earring??”
I realize now — and only now — that Padraic was still in his 40s at the time, but the cigar-chomping chairman was already a legend. Everybody who read his style guide knew that he was a fantastic writer, with a copy-editor’s eye for detail. But then he was so much more: a fantastic reporter, for one. And a fantastic editor. And an excellent publisher, who could sell and charm (or charm and sell) as well as anyone. And a highly-aggressive businessman, to boot, who always paid himself handsomely: last year alone he made about $8.5 million.
On top of that, Padraic was never a man shy about his opinions: one of the ways that he built Euromoney into a powerhouse in the first place was by being unapologetic about being a cheerleader for the then-nascent Euromarkets — basically, the market for offshore dollars, which weren’t taxed by the U.S. government. While at the same time relishing the scoop and the scandal as much as any journalist.
The opinionated founder-editor-publisher, of course, is the kind of person we see a lot of these days: think Mike Arrington, or Nick Denton, or Josh Marshall, or many others. In that sense it’s a very modern role, but it’s also as old as publishing itself, and Padraic was one of the masters. He also understood, long before the World Wide Web was even invented, the power of having multiple platforms: he was early to branch out into conferences, book publishing, and like. He also, I believe, was responsible for the Euromoney Awards: if you haven’t heard of Euromoney magazine, you’ve certainly seen the awards logo appear in the corner of hundreds of bank advertisements all over the world.
Padraic could make mistakes: his ideology and his ambition led him to the board of Allied Irish Bank, where he served from 1998 to 2007, overseeing the very years where the bank overstretched itself massively and then ultimately became insolvent. He also asked me to design a new publication he had decided to put out, called MTNWeek. But to err is human, and in many ways the most attractive thing about Padraic was just how human he was.
Every so often I’m asked how I ended up doing what I do; ultimately, the man responsible for my entire career, such as it is, was Padraic Fallon. He pretty much invented the idea that journalists could have huge success writing about bonds for a living, and he instilled in me a deep understanding of the bond market (and its corollary, a deep mistrust of the stock market) which served me very well indeed, first when I was writing about sovereign debt restructurings in the early 2000s, and then when I started blogging the financial crisis.
Padraic was very old-fashioned in many ways: the cigars, the dinners at the Savoy, the chauffeur-driven car. But he was also a great believer in modernity and change, and in particular the ability of small groups of badly-paid twenty-somethings to out-work, out-report, and generally beat much larger groups of much more well remunerated veteran reporters. Padraic gave thousands of us hugely valuable transferrable skills, as well as the idea the bond market is always the most important market, anywhere. He was surely right about that.