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.

Good = Bad

The Dow was up slightly when the news hit The Street that GDP growth was a whopping 4% in the second quarter.  That’s good news, right?  But, the Dow promptly drops a hundred points on that good news.  Why, because a stronger economy means the Fed is more likely to raise interest rates sooner, instead of later.  And, that’s bad news . . . huh?…

Timing Is Everything

I cannot remember the last time that Consumer Confidence increased 4.5 points in one month, but it did this month.  That means more people are optimistic about their current financial position as well as their future financial position.  There is a close relationship between the labor market and consumer confidence.  As the labor market improves, consumer confidence increases, and both have. Of course, the Confidence…

A Well-Oiled Machine ??

The Federal Reserve System is the only central bank in the world that has a dual mandate, i.e., combating both inflation AND unemployment.  With inflation virtually non-existent, the focus is on unemployment.  The closely-watched monthly “Jobs” report will be released this Friday.  Absent some exogenous factor, the stock market will just churn around the flat line until then. For all of 2013, we created 195…

Geopolitical Risk

The Old Ebbitt Grill at 15th & New York in Washington, D.C., is one of those classic old steakhouses frequented by Congressmen, bankers, and other shady characters.  I had lunch there one day with two analysts who got into an uncomfortable argument about whether Pfizer or Merck was a better investment.  They were even quoting footnotes from the annual statements of both companies?!?! Sitting in…

A Guilty Pleasure

One of my guilty pleasures is taking long walks on the beach alone.  During beach season, it is fun to watch the visitors.  Ninety percent of them and 100% of the dogs are enjoying themselves.  I don’t know why it is so enjoyable, other than the novelty of it.  Less than 50% of the adults but more than 90% of the kids actually go into…

I Don’t Understand

There are many things that I do not understand.  For example, I don’t understand why it takes years to build a road.  I don’t understand what makes window treatments cost so much money.  I don’t understand why women are so obsessed with shoes.  But, most of all, I don’t understand what happened to moderate politicians?  Maybe, they were a species of animals, like dinosaurs, that…

Inverted Thinking

The Democrats are correct in saying we need comprehensive immigration reform.  The Republicans are correct in saying we need comprehensive tax reform, especially reform of the corporate income taxes. If you doubt the need for tax reform, consider the increasing number of “tax inversions” over the last three years  The U.S. has one of the highest tax rates on corporate income in the world.  Making…

Today, We Are All Dutch

On some days, I am actually proud to be part of the human race.  Today was such a day! During the course of my workday, I routinely channel-surf between CNBC, Bloomberg, FBN, and CNN.  Today, because the stock market was so placid, I became transfixed by CNN’s coverage of the arrival of corpses from Malaysia flight #17 back to the Netherlands.  The first forty corpses…

When It Rains . . .

Yesterday, a civilian plane was shot down over the Ukraine, killing all 298 passengers.  Within the hour, Israel invades Gaza.  The Dow drops 161 points, the biggest drop in two months, reflecting the increased uncertainty. In addition, the civil war in Syria still rages on.  Despite our investment of lives and treasure, Iraq is sub-dividing itself.  We’re still not out of Afghanistan, and they cannot…

Fretting Each New High

The Dow set a new high yesterday.  Today, the world is worrying whether the stock market is over-valued and ready for a replay of 2008.  The answer is NO.  Take a look at this chart: If you take the price of a share of stock and then divide it by the earnings per share of stock (EPS), you have the Price-Earnings (PE) Ratio, which is…

Such Sweet Justice

If you live long enough, you might get to see history repeat itself.  When I first started studying economics, forecasting had a heavy dose of person-to-person interaction, where the thoughts of other thought leaders were at least as important as any independent information I might discover.  When I took my first course in statistics, I thought it would be an interesting sideline to either confirm…

Latest NABE Survey

I could join the American Economic Association (AEA) but find them to be too academic and detached.  Instead, I belong to the National Association of Business Economists (NABE), where the everyday work of members depends on their knowledge of economics.  Their latest survey of members was just released and is briefly discussed.below.  The latest survey of the AEA is not. Following the unexpectedly lousy first…

The Final Word on Iraq

Greg Wright is a good friend and client.  A retired attorney, he is now a successful writer.  (You should visit his blog at http://gregrwright.com/blog )He was also a former Marine infantry officer and knows the horrific details of war too well.  Sadly, as a father, he knows that the “full measure of devotion” in war can mean losing your son on the battlefield, and he…

JOLTing Jobs

Five or six years ago, I attended a conference in D.C. on problems with economic measurement.  Of course, there was a great deal of focus on the monthly “jobs report” issued by Department of Labor, because Wall Street invariably obsesses about it.  One of the problems is a lack of agreement about who is really a part of the labor force and who is not…

Living In The Present

To an extent I’ve never seen before, it seems the divide between bulls and bears is increasingly along partisan lines – not completely but increasingly.  Republicans tend to view the market through the lens of Austrian economics, where government budgets must be balanced every year.  Democrats tend to view the market through the lens of Keynesian economics, where budgets must be balanced in the long…

An Extreme Tarheel

I was reading about the Libertarian candidate for the U.S. Senate seat in North Carolina and saw that he subscribed to the Murray Rothbard wing of the Austrian school of economics.  While I think Austrian economics is an under-utilized but useful tool in the toolbox of economists, I loosely subscribe to the Ludwig von Mises wing, which seems quite moderate compared to the Rothbard wing.…

No No Doz Needed

One of those little noticed news items from last month has been keeping me awake.  That is the probe into the huge “dark pool” run by Barclay’s Bank.  Sometimes, when large institutional investors need to buy or sell large stock positions, it can cause the stock market to move suddenly and irrationally.  So, “dark pools” were developed where these positions could be traded in private,…

Still Proud

Memorial Day is the saddest American holiday, as we mourn those who died for our way-of-life.  Veteran’s Day is probably the second saddest holiday, as we remember those who could have died to save our way-of-life.  But, Independence Day is probably our happiest holiday, as we congratulate ourselves on having a way-of-life worth dying for. Since it’s debut in 1984, no Independence Day would be…

“Mad Men”-In-A-Box

If you don’t understand that Facebook is just another advertising firm, you don’t understand Facebook!  And, if you think advertising firms have any ethical compass, you haven’t watched Mad Men. Today, it was learned that Facebook conducted an experiment on almost 700 thousand of its users, to see if the company could manipulate the emotions of those users.  Some users were shown depressing stories and…