The Flinchum File
Thoughtful Economic Analysis and Existential Opinions

From Small Packages


Pound for pound, Janet Yellen is arguably one of the most powerful leaders in the world.  Twenty-five months ago, this diminutive economist became Chairman of the Federal Reserve, succeeding Ben Bernanke.  One of his priorities was increased transparency for the Fed, by encouraging Board members to give speeches and to stimulate intellectual discussion.  Of course, … Continue reading From Small Packages

A Too-Quick Two Years


As a teenager, one of my role models was “Mr. Spock” of the TV series Star Trek.  He tried to lead an emotion-free life.  As silly as it sounds, I thought of him often when serving in the Army.  The facts are facts, and emotions are emotions, and never the twain shall meet — works … Continue reading A Too-Quick Two Years

Steady As She Goes


As a longtime member of the National Association of Business Economics (NABE), I closely follow their “Outlook Survey,” which surveys 48 professional forecasters.  The latest one is reassuring.  While the media always frets that a recession is imminent, NABE’s forecasters do not.  Most don’t expect one before 2018 – another two years.  (15% don’t expect … Continue reading Steady As She Goes

Perspective Is Everything


My 93-year-old father has voted in twenty-three straight Presidential elections.  As a young soldier in France, he voted for the first time in 1944, for Franklin Roosevelt.  Recently, he wrote me  that “I have never seen a Presidential election as cruel and ugly as this one.”  That was before the wife-smearing. Some historians recite ugly … Continue reading Perspective Is Everything

Confusing Love and Pride


It is easy to love my country . . . warts and all.  It always remains a land of great beauty, great opportunity, and mostly great people. It is NOT easy to love the stock market.  A perennial heart-breaker, it is wildly unpredictable.  But, sometimes I do love it anyway . . .  I think. … Continue reading Confusing Love and Pride

Wrong Bucket List?


A geriatric psychiatrist, Dr Marc Agronin,  wrote an interesting article in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal about the current generation of senior citizens.  Because they are “healthier, heartier, and richer” than previous generations, numerous surveys have shown Americans are happier when they get old, with thanks largely to the current entitlements and the previously-common pensions. My take … Continue reading Wrong Bucket List?

Making the Sale


As someone who has long held more than a passing interest, I applaud President Obama for opening relations with Cuba.As someone who remembers President Nixon opening relations with China in 1972, a truly historic foreign policy achievement, I deplore the media for its breathless coverage of the Cuba opening.Of course, breathless does sell advertising . … Continue reading Making the Sale

A Step Forward


Traditionally, Saudi Arabia has been the “swing producer” of oil.  If the price of oil was so high that it was hurting its customers, Saudi Arabia could increase production enough to lower market prices.  If the price of oil was so low it was hurting the oil producers, as it is now,  then Saudi Arabia … Continue reading A Step Forward

When Wrong Is Right


During this short year, the stock market has already completed a scary drop into correction territory (down 10%) and has now almost fully recovered.  This was not the first rodeo for any of us.  In fact, it is almost second-nature by now for me to calm my clients and to keep their eyes on the … Continue reading When Wrong Is Right



Last December, the Fed raised interest rates a quarter-point and predicted they would raise rates four more times in 2016.  I predicted they would not. Yesterday, the Fed had their first opportunity to raise rates this year and did not.  In addition, they predicted they would raise rates only two times this year, not four. … Continue reading Fed-Effects

June 23rd


When thinking about my 2016 forecast last December, I was aware of the inverse relationship between uncertainty and the stock market, i.e., as uncertainty increases, the stock market goes down.  In addition, history tells us that the market is quite choppy the first half in years having a Presidential election but usually ends the year … Continue reading June 23rd

A Needed Hypothetical Discussion


When President Bush appointed his aide, Kevin Warsh, to the Board of Governors of the Fed, I was less than impressed.  Despite being educated at Stanford and Harvard, he was a lawyer, not an economist.  (Who needs more lawyers?)  Press coverage at the time suggested his wife’s wealthy family were substantial contributors to securing this … Continue reading A Needed Hypothetical Discussion

Political Tidbits


Charlie Cook and Greg Valliere are two of Washington’s best known political pundits, and I have heard them speak at several conferences.  (I even had the pleasure of having lunch with Greg in Scottsdale a few years ago and found him to be a genuinely nice guy.) Earlier this week, I attended their lecture.  In … Continue reading Political Tidbits

Feeding The Monster


The U.S. Department of Commerce is like your older sister – she’s been around forever but still isn’t very interesting.  It was one of the original cabinet offices in the Executive Branch, reporting directly to the President, with the mission of representing the interests of business.  (In fact, long before the IRS existed, Commerce was … Continue reading Feeding The Monster

Listening To A Legend


I had the great pleasure of hearing Stanley Fisher speak yesterday.  He is the Vice Chairman of the Federal Reserve System and has a compelling life story.  He was born into modest circumstances in Rhodesia, did his undergraduate work at the London School of Economics, his graduate work at M.I.T., taught at the University of … Continue reading Listening To A Legend

Told Ya So


In my last post, I characterized the attendees at this economics conference as being geeks.  Least there be any doubt about that, yesterday was also the 125th birthday of the Producer Price Index.  Who knew?  So guess who had a birthday party?  The PPI, of course! Then, we sang:Happy Birthday to you,Happy Birthday to you,Happy … Continue reading Told Ya So

Geek-Fest in DC


Because I have to feed three different certifications, life is a never-ending pursuit of continuing education credits.  Every year, I chase conferences around the country to get enough of the CE credits. The most expensive and lavish is the Investment Management Consultants Association (IMCA).  It is more focused on investing and attended mostly by financial … Continue reading Geek-Fest in DC

More Exercise, Drill Sargeant


Readers will recall a lady I knew in Texas, who maintained the best effective diet I’ve ever seen.  She fasted one day each week, usually Friday.  By maintaining tight self-discipline that one day, she made her self-discipline more effective the rest of the week.  I was fascinated by her notion that self-discipline was just another … Continue reading More Exercise, Drill Sargeant

One Data Point To Rule Them All


Many people feel bewildered when economists start talking.  It’s the “drinking from a fire hose” problem.  Who can absorb all those numbers, data points, and graphs immediately?  It is not news to economists that we can confuse any situation by merely adding more data. Years ago, I attended a three-day course in Washington for a … Continue reading One Data Point To Rule Them All

Amen, Mitt !!


I just can’t take it anymore! Whenever you try to be an honest intellectual broker, it is necessary to be non-partisan, because people presume to know all your thoughts, just because they know one of your political thoughts.  I broke that rule last year by denouncing Donald Trump when he trashed John McCain.  I just … Continue reading Amen, Mitt !!

OCB du jour


The stock market is like an infant — it is easily distracted by bright shiny objects! Do you remember during the Great Recession how strongly the market reacted to anything said by Hank Paulson, Ben Bernanke, Jamie Dimon, and other banking elites?  Nothing they said was unimportant.  Eventually, the market recovered. Do you remember a … Continue reading OCB du jour

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