The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions

Comparative Stupidity


Does anybody think the Founding Fathers designed our government to lurch from one manufactured crisis to another?  Did the Founding Fathers ever imagine Americans would be suffering crisis-fatigue or policy-fatigue?  Did the Founding Fathers ever think Congress would be more despised than used-car salesmen? As stupid as all that is — and, it is — … Continue reading Comparative Stupidity

A Too-Tiny Pasture


How much would you pay me for a stock that earns $1 per share per year?  No, that doesn’t mean it pays out a dividend of $1 per year.  It just earns that much, regardless of whether it pays out the earnings as dividends. The market determines how much you have to pay.  Sometimes, you … Continue reading A Too-Tiny Pasture

The End of Austerity?


The most neglected part of governing is educating.  A government cannot get too far ahead of what the people understand and are willing to follow. You’ll recall the Austrian school of economics believes government receipts and disbursements should be equal each year.  The Keynesian school believes, during times of under-employment or excess capacity, the government … Continue reading The End of Austerity?

Missing the Barracudas


I have often written about the power of “bond vigilantes.”  The clearest historical example is that the bond vigilantes determined when World War II would begin.  To build-up his military, Hitler borrowed heavily by issuing government bonds.  When the bond vigilantes stopped buying German bonds, Hitler knew his military would never be any stronger, and … Continue reading Missing the Barracudas

And, The Oscar Goes To . . .


It has been many years since I watched the Academy Awards Show on television, probably decades, but I’ll be watching tonight, because I’ve actually seen four of the Best Picture nominees, which has never happened before. First, Argo is the story behind the rescue of Americans hiding in the Canadian embassy during the early days of … Continue reading And, The Oscar Goes To . . .

The Pain of Agreement?


As a child, I was always told to “go along and get along.”  And, I hated that! While I never disagree just to be disagreeable, it is a point of honor to disagree whenever I think it matters. So, it annoys me when I find myself in agreement with a large group of people.  This … Continue reading The Pain of Agreement?

A Golden Twinkle in My Eye


Merrill Lynch predicts gold will pass $2,000 an ounce by year-end.  Yet, it dropped dramatically yesterday, by over $40, and is sitting about $1,570 now.  As it turns out, a large commodity hedge fund had purchased a put at the $1,600 level.  So, rumors spread quickly that they were dumping their gold holdings when the … Continue reading A Golden Twinkle in My Eye

Crisis Du Jour


Sequestration is almost upon us, and the stock market doesn’t seem to care.  Neither should you! You’ll recall this odd concept of arbitrary cuts in government spending was created when the Congressional partisans could not agree on raising the debt ceiling in 2011.  Of course, nobody asked why they were more likely to find common … Continue reading Crisis Du Jour

Italian Humor . . . or A Bad Joke


Fourteen months ago, Italy was definitely in trouble.  Some called it a “great big Greece,” where employers could not terminate employees in many jobs without regulatory approval and where tax cheats openly boasted about the taxes they didn’t pay — about $160 billion each year.  In fact, their elected leader was also a convicted tax … Continue reading Italian Humor . . . or A Bad Joke

If You Were Ben Bernanke . . .


More than any other person, Ben Bernanke prevented the financial collapse of the United States of America.  But, in doing so, he laid the groundwork for the eventual financial collapse of our country.  It may be more correct to say that he postponed, rather than prevented, our financial collapse.  Maybe, he just bought us enough … Continue reading If You Were Ben Bernanke . . .

The Power of Powerpoint


I was selected to give the keynote address at the annual economic conference of the Hampton Roads Association of Financial Professionals on Tuesday of this week and hope they enjoyed it as much as I did. While it may not make much sense without the commentary, the Association decided to post the slides I used … Continue reading The Power of Powerpoint

Numbers Obsession


As a kid, I liked math.  It could tell me things that words could not.  Numbers can reveal nuances more quickly than words.  But, numbers can also mislead. The current obsession with 14,164 is misleading.  It is more nostalgic than significant.  True, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is now within 1% of that all-time high … Continue reading Numbers Obsession

Arms Escalation


I don’t normally read Rolling Stone magazine, unless somebody puts a gun to my head.  This weekend, my wife put a gun to my head and made me read last month’s issue, that had a long article by Matt Taibbi entitled “Secrets and Lies of the Bailout.” He was also the author of an excellent, highly-regarded … Continue reading Arms Escalation

Keeping Your Eyes on the Forest


One of the biggest problems in deciphering economic data is how inter-connected the data is.  A change here creates a change over there.  One example is the GDP report for the fourth quarter, which originally showed a 0.1% DECLINE.  We could see immediately that it was skewed by the highly-unusual decrease in both government spending … Continue reading Keeping Your Eyes on the Forest

“Sell in May & Go Away”


My favorite professor at Wharton was Dr. Jeremy Siegel, who also wrote Stocks for the Long Run, and I continue to follow his thoughts closely. He was enthusiastic about Friday’s “jobs report” primarily because the unexpected upward revision of 127 thousand jobs created in October and November.  At the same time, he was puzzled by the … Continue reading “Sell in May & Go Away”

Thinking at 35,000 feet . . .


On the long flight back last night from a conference of financial advisors in San Diego, I listed a few general observations: 1.  There was almost uniform agreement from the economists that the underlying economy is improving.2.  There was some question about the length of the current economic recovery.  Is the recovery already longer than … Continue reading Thinking at 35,000 feet . . .

11:00 AM on Tuesday, February 12th


If you are seriously bored at that time, you are respectfully invited to listen to my keynote address to the Hampton Roads Association of Financial Professionals at their annual Economic Outlook Luncheon.  I will be discussing the current state of the economy and the importance of having a SELL strategy.  For additional information, go to … Continue reading 11:00 AM on Tuesday, February 12th

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