One of my favorite quotes from the Rocky movies was the line by the champ (Mr. T) that “I pity the fool,” referring to challenger Rocky Stallone. Sometimes, economists are as arrogant as the champ. This blog has discussed the problem of a strong dollar quite often. Yesterday’s announcement that GDP growth was only 2.6% in … Continue reading Pity The Fool ?
The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions
For about ten years, investment strategists have been arguing that, since half of the world’s stock is outside the United States, we should invest about that much in foreign stocks. In other words, about 50% of your portfolio should be invested internationally. One way to do this was to buy the stock of large U.S. … Continue reading When Is Fast Too Fast?
Last Fall, the CNBC Fed survey of economists and fund managers showed their belief that the Fed would not begin raising interest rates until this June. That didn’t make sense to me, and I suggested it would not happen until much later in the year. Today, the latest survey showed their expectation that the Fed … Continue reading Not This Year
Imagine a Shangri-La where everybody gets free medical car and everybody retires at age 60 unless they have a hazardous job, like hairdressers who must work with dangerous chemicals, you know, or disc jockeys, who are around electrical equipment, you know. They get to retire at age 55. Imagine a national joke about paying taxes, … Continue reading Crybaby Nation
Clint Eastwood’s new movie American Sniper is a must-see for every lover of America. It is not about war.It is not about the Iraqi war.It is not even about warriors. It is about one particular warrior in the Iraqi war.It is about one particular American Hero, who deeply loved his country.It is a true story about a … Continue reading American Hero
This morning, the European Central Bank announced it would begin quantitative easing (QE) in March by purchasing 60 billion euros or about $70 billion of “bonds” each month until Fall of next year, if not longer. This was more than expected, and almost as much as the $85 billion the Fed was buying before it … Continue reading All Eyes On Europe
I didn’t watch the State of the Union address last night. It was past my bedtime, plus I already knew whatever the President said would be dead-on-arrival and could already cite the reasons the Republicans would use to explain why everything was dead-on-arrival. But, apparently, the President coined a new phrase — middle class economics. … Continue reading Middle-Class Economics ??
A recent editorial in Investment News began with “Despite what one may read in newspaper headlines or see on nightly television news shows, the business of providing financial advice is an honorable one — no less honorable than teaching children, taking care of the sick or keeping criminals off the street. In fact, a person who … Continue reading Agism
I write a quarterly column for Inside Business which is supposed to take both a look back as well as a look forward. The most recent column can be found here: http://insidebiz.com/news/q4-recovery-makes-its-way-main-street Unfortunately, that column was submitted just before the Swiss National Bank unexpectedly allowed their currency to float. That announcement may turn out to be … Continue reading Timing Is Everything
We just watched Melancholia, the highly-existential 2011 movie offering by Lars von Trier, who is seriously-talented as a writer and director but might be sadly-flawed as a person. The movie is a study of two sisters – one who is sensible and responsible and the other who is depressive and socially dysfunctional. During the first … Continue reading Melancholy About “Melancholia”
Presidents always get too much credit for good economic times and too much blame for bad economic times. After all, the world’s largest economy has its own momentum. And, it changes direction and speed like an aircraft carrier – S – L – O – W – L – Y. In 2007, we were running … Continue reading Don’t Stop Thinking About . . .
In the wee hours this morning, European stock markets went crazy. Unexpectedly, the Swiss National Bank announced it was no longer supporting the cap on the Swiss franc, which immediately jumped almost 20% in value. This was a huge unexpected jump to occur at one time. Remember that Switzerland maintains its own currency and does … Continue reading Kaboom!
Like a new father getting up for a 3:00 AM bottle feeding, I was up at 2:45 AM. Instead of heading to the kitchen to warm the bottle, I headed to the kitchen for hot tea, before positioning myself in front of the television and wait for the legal opinion from the special counsel of … Continue reading Missing One Bullet But Not Another
Here are the latest thoughts from the highly-self-respected Wall Street investment bank, Goldman Sachs: 1. Global economic recovery will broaden this year – not just the US.2. GDP growth in the US will be above 3% this year and next year.3. No inflation on the horizon.4. “MLPs remain ideally positioned to the energy opportunity.”5. Japan … Continue reading Squid Slime ?
The IRS has just released their latest statistics on the year of 2012. The top 1% paid 38.1% of all income taxes, up from 35.1% the previous year. Their share of total personal income increased to 21.9% of all income. Their adjusted gross income (AGI) started at $434,682. The top 5% received 36.8% of all income … Continue reading Extra, Extra . . . Read All About It
Years ago, a seminary student joked with me that the way to spell religion was p-a-r-a-n-o-i-a. I suggested the correct spelling should be f-e-a-r, as in fear of going to Hell. No, he explained, just like consumer goods are sold with sex appeal, some religions are sold with fear. While they may “make the sale” … Continue reading Making The Sale
There are hundreds of millions of Christians in the world. Certainly, in a number that large, there are some crackpots. Remember the crackpot from Topeka, Kansas, who felt God wanted him to picket the funerals of our soldiers who died in war? Such extremism is a cancer that can grow and destroy a great religion. … Continue reading Je Suis Charlie
The heart-stopper du jour for the stock market has been the merciless, unexpected collapse in oil prices. It was so severe and so sudden that the industry was totally unprepared. But, maybe it has fallen more than is justified. Take a look at this graph: The dramatic drop in the price of oil matches that of … Continue reading The Sweet Smell of Black Gold
There is much discussion currently about deflation, especially since Europe has now demonstrated some minimal lower year-over-year consumer prices. This is not good! Everybody knows inflation means rising prices. It is something we have experienced in our own lifetimes. Deflation actually sounds pretty good. After all, who doesn’t like a lower cost-of-living? Here is the … Continue reading You Say Tomato And I Say . . .
No, it is not a left jab to the face, followed by right roundhouse to the ear. Instead, it is two pieces of bad information, both of which raise uncertainty, something which stock markets just hate. First, over the weekend, Germany called the bluff of Greece by saying the European Union would be just fine … Continue reading Not Your Parents Old 1-2
Full Disclosure: I have been a loyal, enthusiastic fan of the Dallas Cowboys since 1977. When they lose, I become sad and despondent for days. They matter to me! But, I don’t understand why professional sports, including the Cowboys, use superlatives continually. Superlatives also matter. My dictionary defines “hero” as “a man of distinguished courage … Continue reading Pet Peeve #847
So, the Dow was up 7.5% in 2014 — is that good? From a historical viewpoint, that is almost average. What is unusual is that this is the sixth straight year of a bull market, which tells us more about the severity of the Great Recession than it does about the Dow. From a technical … Continue reading Quantifying Risk