Economists are generally a boring bunch. Because I have been a long time member of the National Association of Business Economics, I am frequently surveyed by them on the economy. Their latest forecast was released this morning. But, was it boring enough? It predicts solid GDP growth for this year, 3.3%, which is up 2.7% … Continue reading NABE Forecast
The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions
Remembering our eternally optimistic former President, consumer confidence came out this week, and it was higher than expected. Consumer sentiment (a close cousin) came out today, and it was much higher than expected. Why is there so much optimism? In 1980, average income was $24 thousand, compared to $40 thousand today. Life expectancy has gone … Continue reading Reagan People ?
Remember the late 1970’s days of stagflation, when the economy was stagnant at the same time prices were inflating. (By the way, under Keynesian economics, this should not happen.) Today’s news that growth in the fourth quarter was less than expected, while inflation was higher than expected. As I’ve said repeatedly, this will be a … Continue reading Stagflating?
There is honest disagreement on Wall Street about the emerging markets. For the last several years, the U.S. market has substantially under-performed the stock markets in the emerging nations, like Brazil, China, and India. This changed in the fourth quarter of last year. Many analysts believe 2011 will be the year the U.S. market beats … Continue reading Ongoing Debate
At 6AM, it looks like the Dow will drop about a hundred points at the opening, reacting to the fear of oil sky-rocketing due to the unrest in Libya. Nobody will notice that Home Depot just released their earnings, surpassing expectations for both revenue and net income, in addition to raising their dividend. On a … Continue reading A Mixed Blessing?
Let’s see . . . we have increasing estimates of inflation . . . we have an amazing amount of unrest in the oil-producing Middle East . . . we have slowing growth in corporate profits as they are squeezed by rising commodity prices . . . we have a rising level of foreclosures . … Continue reading What Could Go Wrong?
Back in the dark days of March in 2009 when the S&P reached its low of 666, many questioned the American system of Free Enterprise. Since then, the S&P has DOUBLED! That’s right, if you had invested 100% of your portfolio into the S&P then, you would have a 100% profit now. So, how come … Continue reading What . . . no balloons?
I don’t remember ever having a day when I was not concerned about my privacy. Even in the Army, I always knew I would regain my privacy one day. It is a Value that I still treasure. Before it became irrelevant, Congress even cannonized that Value into a Right to privacy. Wednesday night, I decided … Continue reading When is a Right not a Value?
Yesterday, a “merger” was announced between the fabled New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) and the mighty stock exchange of Germany or the Deutsche Borse. With the majority of board seats going to the Germans, it is more like an acquisition of a American institution. At first, I was simply sad, as an American, to see … Continue reading No Shotgun in This Wedding
For years, I have tried to read everything written by investment guru Barton Biggs. He was a senior partner at Morgan Stanley for decades and now runs a large hedge fund. For the first time, he has now written a work of fiction, called “A Hedge Fund Tale of Reach and Grasp.” It is an … Continue reading Finding Non-Fiction Inside Fiction
Core inflation for January was 0.5%, the highest in over two years. That was at the producer level. Tomorrow, we’ll hear about the consumer level. We traditionally look at the core PPI, which ignores changes in energy and food costs. Tomorrow, we worry more about those costs at the consumer level. So, is inflation coming? … Continue reading Producer Level Inflation
The President has published his budget for the next year without mentioning the 800-pound gorilla in the room, which is entitlements. If we eliminate every single discretionary dollar being spent in the budget, the nation will still go bankrupt unless we address the ballooning cost of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. The President knows this … Continue reading No Profile in Courage
Retail sales for January were released this morning but were disappointing, staying flat with December’s growth rate of 0.3%. Since consumption spending is 65-70% of GDP, it matters . . . a lot! The mystery to me is why anybody expected the higher growth rate of 0.5%? Despite last week’s rise in consumer confidence, the … Continue reading Christmas Hangover?
I’ve just returned from the annual conference on Exchange Traded Funds in Florida, often called ETFs. They have several advantages over mutual funds. For example, they can be bought or sold anytime during the day, not just at the close like mutual funds. Since their investment objective is to match some index, like the S&P … Continue reading InsideETF Conference
Easily, the most anticipated economic report each month is the Jobs Report, which was issued this morning by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While much anticipated, it is becoming less meaningful. Historically, the Jobs Report for January is the most difficult to measure and most often corrected the following month. Today’s report showed only 36 … Continue reading Too Much Anticipation and Too Little Meaning
Well, it is official . . . the markets in January were mostly positive. According to the old Wall Street axiom, “so goes January, so goes the year.” For the month, the Dow was up 2.7% and the broader-based S&P was up 2.2%. Both are very healthy gains for only a month! While there is … Continue reading The January Effect