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.

Kudos to Harvey

A month ago, we were Democrats & Republicans, conservatives & liberals, blacks & whites, neo-Nazi’s and Black Panthers.  Underneath all those pejorative labels, we are sometimes reminded that we’re all Americans.  Watching the huge non-governmental response to Hurricane Harvey, we are reminded of that and should be proud of ourselves.  I salute all those thousands of volunteers who are helping the victims of Harvey.  We…

A Good Problem ?

There is a nation that is considered wealthy, where workers earn good wages.  There is another nation that is not wealthy, where workers earn lower wages.  For some reason, workers earning low wages migrate to the wealthy nation, where they can earn a better living for their families.  The leader of the wealthy nation becomes indignant, insisting these immigrants are taking jobs away from his…

Slow-Motion Tragedy

It was a year after Katrina devastated New Orleans that we happened to attend a conference that was held in the French Quarter, which was almost untouched by the hurricane.  My wife said that unique aroma of the French Quarter was stronger but otherwise the same.  Knowing there was devastation all around us, we were offered a chance to extend our visit to spend a…

Still A Healthy Mind

There are many pundits and thought leaders that I listen to, but I have a certain fondness for one in particular, i.e., Jeremy Siegel of Wharton.  Unfortunately, he is having serious health issues, and he is in my prayers.  During his treatments, he is visited weekly to capture a few thoughts for those of us who appreciate him.  Here are two of his latest: “Professor…

How Many Is Enough?

2,388 — That’s the number of American mothers who lost their sons in Afghanistan. One of the first things taught in the Special Forces Officers Course was that the ultimate weapon is not the atomic bomb.  It is the guerilla — small, agile, and capable of a thousand pin-pricks.  In order to win the war, conventional forces must win battles.  In order to win the…

Faint Praise

I have been a member of the National Association of Business Economics (NABE) for many years.  While it is strictly a non-partisan organization, it is on the more conservative end of the political spectrum, especially compared to the more liberal American Economics Association, which is favored by academic economics.  NABE is a voice for working economists, outside of academia. In their latest quarterly review, only…

24/6

Sometimes, I feel like a nag.  You don’t need to watch the news 24/7.  It is unhealthy, especially now that the news has devolved from partisan bickering to complex investigations to the President’s moral compass.  Like all things, moderation is the key.  Take a 24-hour vacation from the news.  Watch Netflix.  Read a book.  Take a walk.  Take time to find out what your spouse…

Two Good Legs . . . only

I’ve been expecting a significant market correction since Spring and used a tripod to explain it.  One leg supporting the market is economic data, which has been reliably good.  That data has not been great — just good enough to be sustainable over a long period.  We have examined the numerous economic cycles but concluded they are irrelevant in this economic environment, where normal market…

“Amazonization”

Many people believe that Amazon is consuming a larger and larger share of retail sales, leaving small retailers vulnerable. (The President is among those people.)  Small retailers have long been an important part of the economy but are declining.  Yesterday’s retail sales report seemed to confirm that, because it showed that online sales increased 1% in June, 1.3% in July and up 10.3% year-over-year.  Online…

Hillbilly Retirement

Long before JD Vance wrote the groundbreaking Hillbilly Elegy last year, my cousin referred to Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program as the “hillbilly retirement system.”  She noted her family relatives in the Appalachian region looked forward to “getting on disability” since there were so few jobs worth having.  Sadly, she was right! In 1997, there were less than 4.5 million Americans receiving disability.  In 2015,…

Not Now . . . Later

The Volatility Index or VIX is an option allowing investors to make bets (as opposed to investing) on the volatility of the stock market.  It is often called the “Fear Index” – as fear rises, so does the VIX. The VIX has been low and boring since the November election.  But, it suddenly spiked almost 50% last week — actually in just two days —…

Getting Normal Again

Imagine a tsunami of corn, for example, being dumped on the market.  The value of corn per bushel would plummet because supply greatly exceeded the demand for corn.  That is one of the worries overhanging the bond market right now.  The Fed could release a tsunami of government bonds on the bond market IF they suddenly reduced their balance sheet to a more normal level.…

Small Blog for a Big Number

6,160,000 Six million, one hundred-sixty thousand — think about that number a while. That’s the number of job openings in the United States.  It is the highest in history.  There has never been so many jobs available.  It is no wonder that our unemployment rate is only 4.3%.  In fact, hiring is decreasing only because the supply of available workers is shrinking.  There would be…

America’s Tolerance

We took a road trip recently.  Like any long-suffering but loyal fan of the Dallas Cowboys football team, I was wearing a white golf shirt, with a blue star on the left side,  At the first stop for coffee, I was standing at the coffee bar pouring a cup, when an older man leaned over to quietly whisper in my ear “Be careful — this…

Economic Fortune-Telling

My first course in economics was during my junior year of high school.  It was the first time the course was offered at that school and should be required in all high schools.  However, the teacher was often less-than-serious.  He once joked that the reason you never see fortune-tellers and economists together is because they are the same people.  Of course, he was the only…

The Wisdom of Ancients ??

Three scholars — Brinson, Hood, & Beebower — published a study in 1986 of 91 large pension funds’ investment performance from 1971-1983.  They consolidated individual investments into asset classes, i.e., stocks, bonds and cash.  They found that 93.6% of their investment performance resulted from their asset allocation, i.e., the percentage allocation to stocks, to bonds, and to cash.  Investment performance was not a function of…

AU Breakout?

Gold has enjoyed a nice run so far this year.  Technicians believe gold may soon enjoy another run up.  Take a look at this graph: Technicians see that the price approached the red line of resistance once last year and once again this year.  Each time it approaches that line, it is more likely to break that line than the time before. I’m not inclined…

One Tough Kid

He was as tough as anybody I ever met,as tough as any crusty Special Forces sergeant. Yet, he was only 19 when he died last week,barely five feet tall and still wearing diapers. A victim of severe Autism and probably Down Syndrome,he could not walk and barely recognized his own name. A survivor of countless surgeries, treatments, and procedures,he never complained. Always happy to see…