The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions

Individually Innocent . . . But Cumulatively Guilty

04/30/2013

Yesterday’s report that personal income rose less-then-expected, while personal spending rose more-than-expected, made me wonder about our rate of savings. As everybody knows, cigarette companies were held legally responsible for the misfortunes caused by smoking, even though the cigarette companies didn’t hold a gun to anybody’s head.  Smokers smoked because they chose to do so. … Continue reading Individually Innocent . . . But Cumulatively Guilty

Patiently Awaiting Inflation

04/29/2013

A year or so ago, I read the excellent book This Time Is Different:  Eight Centuries of Financial Folly by Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff.  One of the interesting conclusions from the ponderous 463-page study was that nations are condemned to slow economic growth, once their ratio of debt-to-GDP passes 90%.  (In fact, economic growth became … Continue reading Patiently Awaiting Inflation

BlackRock Speaks

04/23/2013

Depending on what you measure, BlackRock is the largest asset manager in the world.  To some extent, this actually makes their predictions of market behavior self-fulfilling; which means they manage so much money they could theoretically cause the market to behave as they suspect. Anyway, here are their latest predictions: 1.  They believe the market … Continue reading BlackRock Speaks

Voices in the Wilderness

04/21/2013

Being a voice in the wilderness can be a lonely experience.  So, it can be nice to hear another voice and even nicer if that voice agrees with you. I have been worried for some time that we will experience a “Jim Fixx” moment, remembering the highly trained, low-body fat runner who suddenly dropped dead … Continue reading Voices in the Wilderness

The Vampire Squid Speaks

04/20/2013

One of the companies that I respect the most but trust the least is Goldman Sachs, which was once famously described as a vampire squid sucking on the face of mankind.  In no particular order, here are some of their latest predictions: 1.  GDP growth will slow to 2.1% this year but accelerating to 2.9% … Continue reading The Vampire Squid Speaks

Let The Battle Begin . . . as usual

04/18/2013

While there are many schools of thought on economics, we have, for convenience, concentrated on the Big Three.  First, there is the Austrian school, which advocates a balanced budget at all times.  It is often called the “tough love” school.  Then, there is the Keynesian school, which advocates deficit spending when the economy has slack … Continue reading Let The Battle Begin . . . as usual

Emptying the tank . . .

04/17/2013

Philosophers debate whether people have an infinite capacity for emotion or merely a finite capacity.  Clearly, some people feel more emotion longer and more strongly than other people.  However, most philosophers will agree that existentialists have a smaller capacity than most.  If that is the case, then emotion becomes “a terrible thing to waste.” It … Continue reading Emptying the tank . . .

Linking the Stock Market with the Economy

04/16/2013

Long-time readers know whenever there is a lull in blog posting, there is a column in the near future.  And, here it is: http://insidebiz.com/news/great-disconnect-market-and-economy  In this quarterly column for Inside Business, I discuss economic and investment performance during the first quarter and offer thoughts on the second quarter.  The question posed in this column is: … Continue reading Linking the Stock Market with the Economy

Guilty Pleasure

04/10/2013

If confession is good for the soul, I confess to enjoying the AMC award-winning series Mad Men, which just returned to the air last Sunday.  It is perhaps the most existential TV program ever.  The lead character is Don Draper, who is a big-time advertising executive.  He is also a brooding, unhappy person.  Surrounded by … Continue reading Guilty Pleasure

Adding Up Intangibles

04/08/2013

Democrats were happy enough with Friday’s Jobs Report, because the economy has been adding jobs for 37 straight months.  And, the unemployment rate dropped from 7.7% to 7.6%.  What’s wrong with that? Republicans were worried that job creation dropped two-thirds in one month.  They were angry that the labor participation rate dropped to the lowest … Continue reading Adding Up Intangibles

Embracing the Baby Bear

04/04/2013

The stock market hit another record high on Tuesday.  The next day, it lost 111 points on the Dow.  Is the rally over?  Of course not! On average, the market has at least five pullbacks of 5% or more each year.  We are due for one and, frankly, need it to consolidate our gains. Yesterday’s … Continue reading Embracing the Baby Bear

Avoiding The Light

04/01/2013

Readers know my expectation is the U.S. economy will continue to improve:  faster with help from Washington and slower without it.  However, we are increasingly vulnerable to a “Jim Fixx moment,” recalling the father of running who suddenly dropped dead while running in his neighborhood, despite having a long body-mass index. The most likely event … Continue reading Avoiding The Light

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