The Flinchum File

Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions
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Welcome to The Flinchum File

I am an Accredited Investment Fiduciary at Bay Capital Advisors, an investment firm headquartered in Virginia Beach, VA. After retiring from Truist Bank, I started this firm to work more closely with a smaller number of clients, and it has been great! Our client load is about 25% of the national average.

Writing is not for the shy or the meek. It exposes a person’s mind and character. I hope you enjoy the view.

Another 1 – 2 Punch

As if today’s government shutdown was not enough bad news, watch out for Italy.  Sore-loser Silvio Berlusconi, who hasn’t been funny since his famous “boom-boom” comments, looks like he is pulling out of the ruling coalition.  He just ordered five cabinet ministers to resign, who promptly did as told.  This is just what Italy and Europe don’t need.  The Italian stock market is down sharply,…

What Shutdown?

Imagine sitting in a high-powered car in the parking lot of a school when classes are dismissed for the day and putting the car into Drive just before jumping out.  Imagine giving Roman Candle fireworks to teenagers living in a shantytown.  Imagine being in a large crowd and firing hundreds of rounds from an AK-47 straight up.  In each case, it is unlikely to have…

Wish I Had Said That . . .

“The primary function of sports is to provide advertisers a way to sell beer and unhealthy stuff to losers who  go to sports bars and pretend they have friends.” OK, that’s definitely an ouch!  But, it does hint at the importance of advertising, which is widely ignored in economic theory.  Economists like to talk about consumers (and investors) making informed decisions in their own self-interet…

In Praise of Imperfection

Long ago and far away, I used to teach a junior level course at the University of Texas at Arlington called “Economics of Money and Banking.”   During that course, I would teach that the risk/reward principle (higher risk deserves higher reward) applies to the pricing of loans as well.  That explains why a successful doctor might get a car loan at 8%, while a…

Not Evil ?

President Reagan never referred to Goldman Sachs as “the evil empire” but some of us think he could have.  He was referring to the old Soviet Union, not the giant investment banking firm that is too-big-to-fail, unfortunately. Nonetheless, their research is good, and here are their most recent predictions: 1.  GDP growth will be 1.6% this year but a whopping 2.9% next year.2.  Unemployment will…

Less European Uncertainty

Missing another bullet, the stock market is relieved that Angela Merkel’s political party did slightly better than expected in the German elections, maintaining a steady hand at the top for another four years.  If she had been repudiated by the German voters, the market would be suffering badly today. The only hiccup is that her coalition partner was repudiated, meaning Merkel will have to rebuild…

Guns and Lunatics

I like guns.  I own several.  I even have my father’s old shotgun.  I am very experienced with them.   I also have a concealed weapons permit and usually carry one in my car with me.  I feel safer with guns than without them.  And, I genuinely think other people around me are safer because I have guns. While I am probably a gun-lover, that does not…

September 29, 2008

That was the date the House voted down TARP, a $700 billion nation-saving economic bailout (which was fully repaid with interest).   As the House voted, I watched the Dow lose a heart-stopping 777 points. I thought about that yesterday as the House voted on the budget to kill ObamaCare.  The futures market indicated the Dow would lose a mere 30 points at the open,…

A Fat Lady Sings Tomorrow

For the last three months on Wall Street, the most important guessing game has been — when will the Fed reduce quantitative easing (QE) and by how much?  The guessing game started immediately after the Fed’s Open Market Committee (FOMC) last quarterly meeting, when Bernanke used a press conference to telegraph their intention to “take the punch bowl away from the party.”  The stock market…

Larry Yellen or Janet Summers

Names are not important.  Thoughts, words, and policies are.  The surprise announcement that Larry Summers was withdrawing his name as a candidate for Chairman of the Federal Reserve, replacing Ben Bernanke, leaves the door open now for Janet Yellen to become the first female Fed head. Appointing the head of the Federal Reserve is one of the most important appointments Presidents make. President Obama was…

Reader Reactions

Yesterday’s blog noted the list of serious worries has dwindled over the past year.  One reader questioned why there was no mention of the tapering problem.  Briefly, the Fed is now buying $85 billion worth of Treasury and housing bonds each month.  This has been very good for the stock market, obviously.  Three months ago, Bernanke suggested the time to decrease the monthly buying was…

Whittling Worries Away

Every Wall Street analyst knows the stock market normally falls during the Fall, with Septermber/October being particularly ugly before rising at year-end.  This year, however, history may not be a reliable guide to the future.  After a lousy August, September has already gotten off to a great start.  Why? Have corporate earnings suddenly improved dramatically?  No, they continue to grow nicely, even though the rate…

Sound of Silence

I love my wife!  Yes, I know that is a bizarre way to begin a blog.  Of course, after the next sentence, every husband knows why I opened with . . . “I love my wife.” When she informed me she was going to Houston to see family, my first thought was serenity, and I started making rules for my highly anticipated alone-time.  First, television…

Over-Thought And Over-Wrought . . . over nothing

Have you heard the joke about the existentialist who says to his doctor “I have liver disease.”  The doctor asks “how can you know that, since there is no discomfort of any kind with liver disease?”  The existentialist replied “I know, I know, those are my exact symptoms!” OK, OK, nobody ever said that existential humor was funny.  So, imagine my curiosity when I read…

Certainty Denied !

Friday’s Jobs Report was widely anticipated.  Wall Street was holding its breath.  It has been tying itself into knots worrying that the Fed was about to “take the punch bowl away” or start tapering quantitative easing (QE).  A good Jobs Report will be the trigger to start this tapering or reducing the amount of QE each month. To refresh your memory, QE is when the…

Losing Sleep Over Syria ?

Interestingly, I have received a surprising amount of feedback that yesterday’s blog, which listed my concerns for the market this Fall, did not include anything about Syria.  The reason is that I don’t expect anything to happen, i.e., that the U.S. will not attack Syria. I wish the President had immediately lobbed a couple of dozen Tomahawks into Assad’s back yard and then apologized for…

Decreasing Uncertainty ?

Readers know I have been concerned about the market over-reacting this Fall to the rising uncertainty. The primary cause of this uncertainty is the impact of the Fed tapering its quantitative easing (QE3).  We will know much more about it on Friday when the monthly “Jobs Report” is issued.  If the economy created over 200 thousand new jobs last month, we can expect tapering to…

Barack O’Claus

Thank you, Mr. President, for the early Christmas present!  As someone who had come to the reluctant conclusion that Congress was a failed institution that needed to be “repealed and replaced,” it was refreshing to witness the behavior of our Elected Children — after you tossed Syrian question to them.  They actually acted like adults, imagine that? Watching the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee take testimony…

Loving To Hate . . . or, just hating to love?

Republicans probably think these numbers are too low.  Democrats probably think these numbers are too high.  Because these numbers can be spun by politicians on both sides endlessly, they must be “in the ballpark.”  So, here are the numbers: The economic nerds at the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank have estimated that the economic cost of Washington’s indecisiveness and gridlock is about two million full-time…