The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions

The Cost of a Good Emotion


I normally wake up between 4:30 and 5:00 in the morning.  Yesterday was no different, except the television was already on, showing a bunch of fancy-dressed-folks going into an ornate cathedral in London.  More importantly, there was tens of thousands of people outside cheering wildly, which is not the same thing as working hard. British economists … Continue reading The Cost of a Good Emotion

Situational Economics


Economists often develop a religious fervor about some school of thought.  We see constant dogfights between Keynesians, Supply-Siders, and Austrian (Tough Love) economists.  Sometimes, we still hear from Monetarists. But economics is more like situational ethics than religion.  Different ideas are appropriate at different times in different places.  Today’s editorial in “The Wall Street Journal” … Continue reading Situational Economics

Dueling Coincident Indicators


We all know about leading economic indicators, i.e., those that tell us where the economy is going.  There are also lagging indicators that tell us where the economy has been and are usually not worth knowing.  Lastly, there are coincident economic indicators that tell you where the market is right now. Two coincident indicators are underwear and … Continue reading Dueling Coincident Indicators

A “Whew” Rally


Today, Ben Bernanke took a risk.  In an laudable effort to bring greater transparency to Fed thinking, he held the first press conference ever for a Fed Head.  There was lots of anxiety that he would accidentally say something, and the market would over-react to it.  Fortunately, it was a wonderful non-event.  The talking heads … Continue reading A “Whew” Rally

Holding Our Breath


Yesterday was a great day for the market bulls, driving up the Dow by 115 points.  Quarterly corporate earnings reports continued to be strong.  In addition, the Consumer Confidence Index was unexpectedly strong.  The S&P is at a three-year high! Today will be different.  While the continuing flow of quarterly corporate earnings is expected to … Continue reading Holding Our Breath

“Sell in May?”


One of the oldest proverbs of traders (not investors) is to “sell in May and go away.”  The research is pretty compelling that stocks do much better in colder months than warmer months.  I don’t think this year will be any different.  There are just too many unresolved issues, even more so than usual.  Does that … Continue reading “Sell in May?”

Playing With Matches


Forgive me, but it worries me to see our elected children in Congress playing with fire, by threatening to keep the debt level at the current level.  That means we cannot borrow anymore–immediately, we cannot borrow anymore — on that day.  It would be immediate!  Given that 42% of every dollar spent is borrowed, which … Continue reading Playing With Matches

Does Anything Matter?


Without being too existential, I’m beginning to wonder why the stock market continues to bound over the famous “wall of worry.”  GDP growth is slowing.  Who cares?  Unemployment is going down bitterly slow.  Who cares?  The Congressional children may cause a national disaster by not raising the debt ceiling.  Who cares?  The budget deficit this … Continue reading Does Anything Matter?

The Enigma of Goldman


Rolling Stone magazine once referred to legendary investment banking firm Goldman Sachs as the “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity.”  I don’t find any reason to disagree with that.  Yet, I have great professional respect for their cold, hard, unblinking analytical capabilities. In their latest analysis, they estimate that our GDP growth is being … Continue reading The Enigma of Goldman

The Tragedy of Ayn Ryan


As a child growing up near Williamsburg and Yorktown, I was always fascinated by the notion of America revolting from the tyranny of an oppressive England.  As a teenager, I enthusiastically read the books of Ayn Rand, especially Atlas Shrugged, which was a story of free-thinking people revolting against an oppressive governmental bureaucracy.  (It was … Continue reading The Tragedy of Ayn Ryan

Our “Negative” Outlook


OK, I’ve read the report from Standard & Poor’s yesterday that said the economic outlook for the U.S. was downgraded from Stable to Negative.  I’ve listened to numerous pundits and read numerous analysis by people I respect.  And, I’ve learned very little that I did not already know.  In summary, here are my thoughts on … Continue reading Our “Negative” Outlook

A Blockbuster From Left Field


Overnight, the engine of world economic growth, China, raised rates again, to slow their economy and the world economy.  The Finnish election went badly and will likely threaten the bailout of Portugal.  There is now serious talk of some bondholders of European governmental debt taking a loss at maturity of their bonds.  The head of … Continue reading A Blockbuster From Left Field

A Father’s Advice


Last night at my Rotary meeting, a friend asked me what advice a father should give his grown daughters.  I promised to sleep on it and give him some thoughts this morning in my blog.  In no particular order, they are: 1.  Money is not everything in life, but it is important.  Don’t be afraid of it.  … Continue reading A Father’s Advice

Lots of News This Morning


Initial unemployment claims expectently jumped 27 thousand last week, which is bad news.  Continuing claims (which is really more important) fell to the lowest level since September of 2008, which is good news. The Producer Price Index was expected to be up 1.0% but came in better at 0.7% in March, down from 1.6% in February.  However, … Continue reading Lots of News This Morning

An Economist’s Flashback


When I was a bright, young economist fresh out of graduate school, I was fascinated by the writings of Nikolai Kondratieff, who was an obscure Russian economist that rose to become the Deputy Secretary of Food for Russia.  Unfortunately, he would up in the infamous Gulag Archipelago with the famous Russian dissident, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Communists at … Continue reading An Economist’s Flashback

The Camel’s Nose . . .


I have long been concerned about the damage that derivatives did during the global financial crisis and their ability to cause another one.  The biggest problem is the lack of transparency.  There is no clearing exchange to understand what the market was betting on, and it is important, because it is a $583 TRILLION market. … Continue reading The Camel’s Nose . . .

A Two-Speed World


One of my favorite sources of global economic analysis is the International Monetary Fund.  Their latest report was interesting.  They said that worldwide GDP growth was a very healthy 5% last year, and will be 4.4% this year and 4.5% next year.  That sounds really promising! However, that growth belongs to the “haves and have … Continue reading A Two-Speed World

Happy to be Two-Thirds Wrong


Long time readers know I write a quarterly column on the economy for Inside Business, which is the regional business journal.  You can copy and paste this URL to read the latest: In it, you will read the consensus of opinion at the conference of the National Association of Business Economics, which I attended in … Continue reading Happy to be Two-Thirds Wrong

Whew . . . But Not WHEW!


With a flair for needless melodrama, Congress decided not to shutdown the government last night.  That is a good thing.  From an economic standpoint, Keynesian economists are shaking their head, because the economy has lost stimulus, however minutely.  Austrian economists are relieved, because the deficit is reduced, however minutely.  Of course, supply-side economists got their … Continue reading Whew . . . But Not WHEW!

Where is Miss Woodward?


Suspended between childhood and puberty, eighth graders are notoriously ill-behaved and ill-mannered.  My teacher that year was Mrs. Woodward, and I wish she was in Washington, where members of Congress are both ill-behaved and ill-mannered.  She did not tolerate disrespectful slackards and actually threw kids out of class if they were not working hard or playing … Continue reading Where is Miss Woodward?

Is Money Everything ?


What a dumb question?  Everybody knows love, health, friends and other things are more important than money.  Yet, I was reading a new survey by the Associated Press that 25% of us have absolutely no savings and 25% of us say we have no plans to retire.  Is that just a coincidence?  I think so.  Money … Continue reading Is Money Everything ?

Kudos to Rep. Ryan (R-Wisconsin)


Last weekend, I wrote my quarterly column that will appear in next week’s Inside Business.  I discussed the economic conference I attended last month in Washington, where speaker-after-speaker lamented the fact that neither Democrats nor Republican would deal with the financial cancer on this country, which is entitlements.  The Democrats did it last year and … Continue reading Kudos to Rep. Ryan (R-Wisconsin)

Kudos to the Chinese, sorta . . .


World markets were down overnight, and the futures market suggested a slightly down open for our market.  The reason is that the Chinese are again attacking their problem with inflation, by raising interest rates for the fourth time since October.  In addition, they have raised their banking reserve requirements six times, to reduce bank lending.  … Continue reading Kudos to the Chinese, sorta . . .

216,000 and Growing . . .


Earlier in the week, the consensus estimate of the Jobs Report released this morning was that 225 thousand jobs were created in March.  Over the last few days, it drifted down to 200 thousand.  When the actual number of 216 thousand was released, the futures market had a nice pop-up.  It should be another good … Continue reading 216,000 and Growing . . .

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