The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions

Global Bi-Partisanship Needed

03/29/2012

Republicans often argue that less regulation is always better.  Democrats are often seen arguing that more regulation is always better.  Sometimes, they are both right! For years, during the Bush II administration, financial deregulation was a sacred objective.  Not surprisingly, the economy boomed, and the financial sector eventually became 22% of GDP.  Also, not surprisingly, … Continue reading Global Bi-Partisanship Needed

What . . . We Agree ???

03/26/2012

One of my favorite conferences each year is the annual Policy Conference of the National Association of Business Economics, which starts today in Washington.  This is the first time in many years I have missed it and already regret missing it. One of the opening events is the release of the latest member survey.  What … Continue reading What . . . We Agree ???

It’s Only Been 46 Years

03/24/2012

I bought my first share of stock in 1966.  Since then, there has never been one day that somebody wasn’t predicting the sky is falling.  Of course, the sky does fall sometimes, like in 1929 and maybe in 2008.  But, it doesn’t fall everyday.  Just because the S&P 500 fell half of 1% last week … Continue reading It’s Only Been 46 Years

Heads, I Win . . . Tails, the Shareholders Lose

03/23/2012

Many analysts have concluded the global financial crisis resulted from bond salesmen who were simply working their incentive plan by selling mortgage-backed-bonds secured with subprime mortgages, which created large losses around the world.  How many have you seen doing the “perp-walk” when arrested?  The answer is NONE.  They made millions.  When things went bad, they … Continue reading Heads, I Win . . . Tails, the Shareholders Lose

Two-Speed Housing Market

03/18/2012

A good friend of mine faithfully forwards each issue of The Kiplinger Lettter which I have studied for many decades now.  I like this newsletter because it is clear, concise, and non-partisan. The current issue is unusually interesting.  Even though the average price of homes is expected to drop another 2% nationally this year, home prices … Continue reading Two-Speed Housing Market

Getting Past Losing

03/17/2012

One of our basic values is that the lazy should not be rewarded with the earnings of people who work. However, we have a poor, elderly relative, who is married to a husband who will not work.  When her health finally failed a year or so ago and could no longer work, we thought her … Continue reading Getting Past Losing

Wall Street’s Dirty Little Secret

03/16/2012

On Wednesday, a disgruntled employee wrote an open letter of resignation to the legendary Goldman Sachs which appeared on the Op-Ed page in the New York Times.  Since then, Wall Street has been obsessed with it. Goldman Sachs has a long, storied history as an investment firm on Wall Street.  They were always considered “the … Continue reading Wall Street’s Dirty Little Secret

Your Weekend Errand

03/16/2012

From the late 1970’s to the mid 1990’s, home prices moved within a fairly narrow range.  Then, they spiked up dangerously.  Today, as indicated by this graph, home prices have returned to the bottom of that range. With interest rates starting to tick up, that should send potential home buyers back into the market, making … Continue reading Your Weekend Errand

A Guilty Victim

03/15/2012

Last Friday, the Department of Labor released the all-important monthly Jobs Report.  Generally, it was better-than-expected, with 227 thousand jobs being created.  (This morning, High Frequency Economic,whom I respect, predicted over 300 thousands being created monthly by late Spring?)  Our U.S. unemployment rate did not drop, remaining at 8.3% of the workforce, because so many … Continue reading A Guilty Victim

A Head Problem and a Heart Problem

03/14/2012

Suppose, God forbid, that the stock market drops 50%.  Suppose unemployment rises from 8.3% to 13%.  Suppose home prices drop another 21% from already depressed levels.  And, suppose this all happens by the end of next year . . . The Fed just announced another round of stress tests for major U.S. banks.  Generally, the … Continue reading A Head Problem and a Heart Problem

Basketball, Options, and the Fed

03/13/2012

We were in Atlanta this weekend for an interesting conference, attended by investment strategists, whose idea of athletic prowess would be to draw macro-economic graphs upside-down on drink napkins during a polite barroom discussion on economic policy. Ironically, we were surrounded by thousands of enthusiastic basketball fans attending the NCAA Tournament whose idea of physical … Continue reading Basketball, Options, and the Fed

3:00 PM EST Today

03/08/2012

That is when the deadline expires for owners of Greek government debt to either accept or reject a complicated offer to basically write off 53.5% of the face value of the bonds they hold.  (In other words, if I owe you $1 thousand, I will repay you only $465 instead.) Over half of the bondholders … Continue reading 3:00 PM EST Today

The Weight of News

03/07/2012

Yesterday, the stock market was ugly, the worst loss since last November, but the question is whether it reflected the U.S. economy or simply the sheer weight of news.  For example, so far this week, we’ve learned that: China’s growth rate has dropped to “only” 7.5%, ignoring their announcement that they plan to target future … Continue reading The Weight of News

A Vertical Marathon

03/06/2012

Years ago, when I lived in Dallas, I enjoyed participating in their annual Vertical Marathon, which was a race up the stairwell of the tallest building there — all 72 floors.  Two participants at a time were permitted to start together, followed by another pair of participants two minutes later.  (Your time spent climbing was … Continue reading A Vertical Marathon

Some Not-So-Final Thoughts

03/05/2012

Alcoholics cannot begin to help themselves until they admit they have a problem.  In that vein, we need to repeat:  The American health care system in general and Medicare & Medicaid in particular are going to destroy this country!  There!  We said it! We’ve all seen the statistics many times, maybe so many times that … Continue reading Some Not-So-Final Thoughts

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