The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions

Good Riddance!

09/30/2011

The third quarter ends today . . . Good!  It was awful, with the S&P losing about 12.5%.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that October is usually the worst month of the year!  At 5AM, futures indicate the Dow will open about 90 to the downside, a fitting end to an awful month and … Continue reading Good Riddance!

The Underlying Economy

09/29/2011

Realizing that the linkage between the economy and the stock market can sometimes be tenuous, it was good to see the latest economic releases this morning.  I’ve been saying the underlying economy was weak but not as weak as most people think.  Today, the final GDP growth rate for the second quarter was released.  It … Continue reading The Underlying Economy

Headlines, Theories and The Market

09/29/2011

The market is often described as panic-depressive, because it over-reacts to most everything.  Maybe, it is just a matter of degree, but I have never seen it so headline-dependent.  (Of course, everthing is different in the face of a financial crisis, which is entirely different and much worse than a standard recession.) Fortunately, the German … Continue reading Headlines, Theories and The Market

Out of Left Field . . . A Miracle?

09/27/2011

The market “prices in” various risks.  For example, as the market worried increasingly about the European crisis, it continued to discount the value of stocks lower and lower.  It would stay low until worry about that risk subsided.  Yesterday, there was a surprise CNBC report, that seemed to come out of left field, saying there … Continue reading Out of Left Field . . . A Miracle?

The Market Will Open Higher . . . Darn It!

09/26/2011

History is more interesting than instructive, unfortunately!  If you re-read Friday’s blog, you’ll recall the observation by the revered Art Cashin of the Thursday/Monday syndrome, whereby Thursday is very bad, Friday is choppy and Monday is terrible (reflecting “capitulation”).  Then, a long bull market begins on Tuesday. On Friday, I predicted this is unlikely without some … Continue reading The Market Will Open Higher . . . Darn It!

A Society of Fear?

09/25/2011

My frustration with the Tea Party has been their simplistic focus on spending, without making the critical distinction between entitlements (which consume the vast majority of government spending) and discretionary spending (which is a far smaller problem).  I’ve discussed in this space before that a 100% elimination of discretionary spending would not eliminate our deficit … Continue reading A Society of Fear?

Are You Ready For Some Football?

09/24/2011

This was a miserable week for Wall Street, with the Dow down 6.4%.  That was the worst week in almost three years.  It was like investors collectively but suddenly realized the whole world has a leadership vacuum.  In addition, a lot of other things were happening beneath the headlines. World markets got hammered worse than the … Continue reading Are You Ready For Some Football?

A Historical Precedent?

09/23/2011

One of my favorite commentators is Art Cashin of UBS, who has been on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange for over fifty years . . . literally . . . 50 years! This morning he spoke about the “Thursday/Monday” syndrome, which sets the stage for a strong bull rally.  On Thursday, the … Continue reading A Historical Precedent?

TGIF . . . Not

09/23/2011

Yesterday was ugly, with the Dow dropping almost 400 points.  Earlier this morning, the futures market indicated the Dow would open up over 100 points but has been drifting down since then.  It looks like it will open slightly down right now. Traders, especially high-frequency traders, are driving the market now.  (Investors try to pick good … Continue reading TGIF . . . Not

One-Two Punch?

09/22/2011

As a lifelong student of the investment markets, I usually take comfort in understanding both it’s cyclical behavior and its tendency to over-react to news.  When I don’t understand, I get worried. I’m worried!  The Dow lost over 100 points at closing yesterday, for no ascertainable reason.  It was certainly not the usual over-reaction to yesterday’s meaningless … Continue reading One-Two Punch?

Going To Extremes

09/21/2011

I was raised as an Eisenhower Republican, i.e., distrustful of both big government AND big business, as well as deeply suspicious of foreign entanglements.  (Undoubtedly, the latter has fueled my lifelong interest in globalization.) On Monday, I gladly attended a fundraiser for George Allen, whom I have supported in the past.  However, it was not about … Continue reading Going To Extremes

The Morning After . . .

09/19/2011

Last week, the markets rallied nicely, up 4-6%.  They were expecting something constructive from the G-7 finance ministers meeting this weekend in Poland, with the announcement last night.  That didn’t happen, and the markets are peeved this morning.  Europe is down 2-3% already.  Our futures indicate the Dow will lose about 130 points at the … Continue reading The Morning After . . .

Reading the Fed

09/17/2011

This week, the Fed will meet for a special two-day meeting.  Normally only a one-day event, Bernanke wanted to make sure any disagreements were fully explored.  So, what should we expect? The market believes the Fed will announce Operation Twist, which means they will sell some of the shorter-term Treasury bonds (at a profit) and … Continue reading Reading the Fed

Guilty As Charged!

09/16/2011

There are some people who watch every movement in the market and hope to glean some minute parcel of meaning from it.  Today will be a bad day for them! First, Fridays are traditionally more volatile than other days, as traders decide whether to remain in cash over the weekend.  If dramatic news should break … Continue reading Guilty As Charged!

It’s Morphine . . . Not Penicillin

09/15/2011

In a remarkable piece of world-wide cooperation, many of the world’s central banks have agreed to provide liquidity funding for European banks, mostly dollar swaps.  Not surprisingly, the European and U.S. markets are up nicely, and gold is down about $40/oz.  The markets feels good now, because they got a shot of morphine. Unfortunately, this … Continue reading It’s Morphine . . . Not Penicillin

Contrary to Popular Belief

09/14/2011

A few years ago, the Governor appointed me to the Virginia Public Building Authority.  Technically, the job is to issue all bonds authorized by the legislature to construct public buildings.  Practically, the job is to make sure the investment community doesn’t take advantage of the state bureaucracy. Today, I was in Richmond attending the meeting … Continue reading Contrary to Popular Belief

Pricing In Armageddon?

09/12/2011

As predicted, the G-7 meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bankers this weekend in France produced another “mealy-mouth” statement, and the world markets are dropping in response.  Asia and Europe both dropped sharply overnight, and the futures market indicate the Dow will drop about 140 points at the open, on top of the 303 points … Continue reading Pricing In Armageddon?

September 11, 2001

09/11/2011

At the time, I was running SunTrust’s wealth management office in Olde Town Alexandria, a surprisingly deep pocket of wealth.  I was at work early that day to prepare paperwork for a loan to a long-time friend and client that afternoon in Newport News. About 9:30, an employee walked in my office, asking me if … Continue reading September 11, 2001

The Austrian Perspective . . . Pain

09/10/2011

I sagely predicted the market would drop on Friday.  My thinking was that Friday is the most volatile day of the week anyway, and everybody would be disappointed with the Presidential address on Thursday night.  However, in addition to that, there were a number of rumors coming out of Greece and Brussels, which deeply unsettled … Continue reading The Austrian Perspective . . . Pain

How Low Can It Go?

09/09/2011

We know gold has become expensive and that houses have become relatively inexpensive.  If you measure the average cost of a house divided by the price of gold per ounce, you get the cost of the house in ounces of gold, instead of dollars.  Now, take a look at this chart.  Does this suggest houses are … Continue reading How Low Can It Go?

The Jobs Speech

09/09/2011

One characteristic of existential observers is the tendency to see absurdity in many things and to find some wry humor in that.  I felt that way watching the Presidential Jobs Speech last night. First, he walks into a room where at least a hundred people truly hate him but nonetheless stand there applauding anyway.  Then, he asks them to … Continue reading The Jobs Speech

That Cat Don’t Meow

09/08/2011

Imagine standing on the roof over your garage and tossing the dead carcass of a cat onto the driveway.  It will hit the driveway and bounce up somewhat before falling back on the driveway.  That disturbing imagery is what Wall Street calls a “dead cat bounce” . . . or what I call . . … Continue reading That Cat Don’t Meow

The Linebacker and the Cheerleader

09/03/2011

Given my belief that Congress is inhabited by useless children who would rather fight than win, I often need to be reminded that it has actually passed two important bills to deal with the economic crisis. First, during the waning days of the Bush Administration, it did pass TARP, albeit on the second try.  Although the … Continue reading The Linebacker and the Cheerleader

A Graph = 1,000 Words

09/02/2011

Take a look at this graph.  The job problem is different than most investors think.  First, you will notice the graph covers only normal recessions, not any of the financial panics.  Second, job growth after recessions did not return to the “average” after 2001.  We have been growing jobs below trend for ten years already.  Third, … Continue reading A Graph = 1,000 Words

Don’t Touch That Dial!

09/02/2011

The world deserves a long holiday weekend!  After a horrific August, the worst since 2001, we head into September, which is historically a very bad month for the stock market.  The first day was a down day for the market, as the European tail wagged the U.S. dog again.  Decision-making in Europe actually makes Washington … Continue reading Don’t Touch That Dial!

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